PITTSBURGH (AP) - Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has seen flashes from Andrew McCutchen in recent days that seem to indicate his slow-starting center fielder is ready to break out at the plate.
Against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday, Hurdle saw the real thing. McCutchen mashed two homers, but it wasn't enough to overcome a rare explosion from the slumping Dodgers in a 10-3 loss.
``I've expected him to get on a tear anytime soon and tonight's more evidence to the fact that it might've already started,' Hurdle said.
McCutchen entered the night hitting just .164 at PNC Park with no homers. He drilled a pair into the left-field bleachers to take some of the sting out of a rough night for ace Kevin Correia.
Correia (5-3) remained winless at home as Pittsburgh's modest three-game winning streak came to a halt. The Pirates were hoping to give themselves some breathing room after making a rare move above .500 on Monday. Instead, they dropped to 18-18 when Correia ran into trouble in the sixth.
Pittsburgh's new No. 1 starter cruised through the first five innings and appeared to be on his way to another clean frame after easily retiring the first two batters in the sixth.
Then the pinpoint control that has fueled his solid start to the season briefly disappeared.
Jamey Carroll singled to center and Aaron Miles dropped a bunt down the third-base line. Pittsburgh's Brandon Wood let the ball roll, hoping it would go foul.
``I took a chance,' Miles said. ``It was a tight game and I gave it a shot. If you give me a chance like that, I'm going to take it every time.'
The Dodgers quickly took advantage.
Andre Ethier lined a single up the middle just out of the reach of second baseman Neil Walker to put the Dodgers up 1-0. A pitch later, the lead ballooned to 4-0 as Matt Kemp drilled a Correia fastball over the wall in center for his seventh home run of the season.
``(Miles) put a perfect bunt down, kept the inning alive and the three-hole hitter comes up and fists the ball and the cleanup hitter hits a 3-run homer,' Hurdle said. ``It looks good when you draw it up that way.'
The Dodgers bounced back a night after unraveling late in a 4-1 loss to open the series. Mattingly and Juan Uribe were ejected arguing a disputed catch in the eighth inning and the Pirates went on to win 4-1.
This time late in a tight game, the Dodgers didn't leave it up to chance.
Kemp's blast ignited a slumping offense as Los Angeles posted a season-high 15 hits.
``We kept grinding,' Mattingly said. ``After last night, when things went wrong for us, to turn it around on the next night, it was really big for us.'
Ted Lilly (3-3) had little trouble over six innings as Los Angeles won for just the second time in seven games.
The left-hander has received a paltry 2.99 runs of support since the start of the 2010 season, the lowest in the majors. He made sure not to waste a rare offensive outburst by one of baseball's lowest-scoring teams.
``We were pretty tough to stop tonight, and it's really fun out there when our bats are going like that,' Lilly said. ``The dugout is more fun, and everyone feels a little better about ourselves.'
Lilly limited Pittsburgh to two runs on four hits, striking out four.
Kemp, Ethier and Rod Barajas had two hits each for Los Angeles, whose 10 runs were the most since putting up 12 in a win over the Chicago Cubs on April 22.
``We'll take a game like this whenever we can get it,' Carroll said. ``It was good to have a few big innings, it's something we haven't had around here in awhile.'
Mattingly has preached patience during his team's slow start. He has called a couple of team meetings - the last in New York over the weekend - reminding his players to not get too worked up over their recent slide. For a night, at least, the Dodgers looked relaxed. Then again, they almost always do against the Pirates.
Los Angeles has dominated Pittsburgh over the last decade, winning 70 percent of the meetings between the two teams and taking every season series between the clubs since 2001.
NOTES: Lilly became the 17th active pitcher with at least 1,500 career strikeouts when he got Matt Diaz to whiff in the first inning. ... Pittsburgh's solid play hasn't exactly led to an uptick at the gates. A crowd of 13,497 watched on Tuesday. ... Los Angeles reliever Blake Hawksworth left with a groin injury after coming in place of Lilly in the seventh. Mattingly said it's too early to tell how long Hawksworth may be out.
The Associated Press News Service
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