Central Ohio baseball player makes major league debut in Pittsburgh
Central Ohio's own Caleb Ferguson made his major league debut against the Pittsburgh Pirates in a loss Wednesday night.
Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle had a sense of deja vu while watching his team take and then threaten to blow three four-run leads during an 11-9 victory over Ferguson and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"I felt like I was back at Coors Field," said Hurdle, who spent more than a decade coaching and managing the Colorado Rockies before joining the Pirates in 2011. "Just come on, stop."
It finally did, thanks in large part to an offense that bounced back following consecutive shutout losses to knock around Los Angeles rookie starter Ferguson and seven relievers.
Josh Harrison went 2 for 3 with a bases-clearing double , David Freese and Gregory Polanco drove in two runs each and Sean Rodriguez added two hits and played steady defense as the Pirates won for just the fifth time in 18 games to avoid dropping below .500 for the first time all season.
Rodriguez, making a second straight start at shortstop while Jordy Mercer battled flu-like symptoms, came in hitting just .167 and had three errors in his last five games but did his best to simplify his approach following a talk with Hurdle.
"Focusing on the process, not the results, as difficult as that is sometimes because it's a result-based game," Rodriguez said.
Corey Dickerson had three of Pittsburgh's 10 hits and scored four times for Pittsburgh, which took the lead for good against former Pirate reliever Daniel Hudson (1-2) in the third and held on.
"Everybody in this lineup contributed from top to bottom and we needed everybody to contribute top to bottom to win that game," Hurdle said.
Steven Brault (5-1) picked up the victory in relief of ineffective starter Trevor Williams, who lasted just three innings. Felipe Vazquez worked out of a two-on, one-out jam in the ninth for his 11th save.
Matt Kemp hit his 10th home run of the season and drove in five runs for the Dodgers, who saw their four-game winning streak come to an abrupt halt. Cody Bellinger added his 10th home run and second in as many nights but the pitching that fueled Los Angeles' rise back to .500 after a miserable start faltered.
The Dodgers brought up the 21-year-old Ferguson to make a spot start, but the former 38th-round pick from Columbus, Ohio, failed to make it out of the second inning after walking three batters, hitting two others and being charged with four runs while recording just five outs.
Kemp practically kept Los Angeles in it by himself. The resurgent two-time All-Star boosted his National League-leading batting average to .353 after going 3 for 4. Kemp doubled home two runs in the third as the Dodgers erased an early four-run deficit and his three-run homer into the visiting bullpen at PNC Park drew Los Angeles within 8-7. He lined out to second while representing the go-ahead run against Vazquez in the ninth.
"I don't think we're ever out of a game, especially the way our offense has been swinging the bat," Kemp said. "It was a tough day today. They scored a lot of runs. We tried to make it into a good game. We did. Came up short."
Pittsburgh's sputtering offense responded each time the Dodgers pushed back. Freese, Harrison, Polanco, Starling Marte and Sean Rodriguez all entered the game mired in slumps of various lengths and each of them drove in at least one run. Polanco's pinch-hit two-run double in the sixth pushed the advantage to 11-7 and the struggling bullpen did just enough to make it stand up.
The Pirates needed the outburst to offset another iffy start by Williams. The right-hander's hot April has faded in June. Williams is 1-2 with a 6.06 ERA in his seven starts since May 3 after beginning the season by allowing two runs or less in each of his first six starts.