LOS ANGELES (AP) - The Pittsburgh Pirates faced four of the NL's elite starting pitchers in their first four games of the season, yet still emerged with a split.
That impressive result didn't feel particularly comforting to the Pirates after Andre Ethier set off a celebration at Dodger Stadium at their expense.
Ethier hit a tiebreaking homer off Jason Grilli with two outs in the eighth inning Tuesday, sending the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 2-1 victory on Dodger Stadium's 50th anniversary.
Pittsburgh opened a nine-game trip with just five hits against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers' bullpen. After Grilli (0-1) yielded the decisive homer, Andrew McCutchen grounded into a game-ending double play.
Yet the disappointment of a dramatic loss didn't erase the satisfaction of another strong effort under difficult circumstances for the Pirates - and their veteran setup man certainly wasn't fazed by his failure.
``I love the adversity,' Grilli said. ``If I don't, then I shouldn't be doing this. But I relish it. I mean, I'm not happy about what happened today, but I can't wait to get the ball the next time, because I'm going to win that battle. I guess the good thing about being a reliever is that you can come back out tomorrow and redeem yourself and be a hero.'
Pittsburgh didn't get caught up in the party around the Dodgers' home opener, either. Kevin Correia shut down Los Angeles' offense after Matt Kemp's RBI groundout in the first inning until the Pirates evened it in the seventh on Matt Hague's run-scoring groundout.
Correia yielded four hits and two walks over six innings in his season debut for Pittsburgh after missing the final six weeks of last season with a strained oblique, matching Kershaw's seven-inning effort for the Dodgers.
``It's a small sample, but we've been pitching great,' Pirates catcher Rod Barajas said. ``But we've had some tough matchups: (Roy) Halladay, (Cliff) Lee, (Cole) Hamels, and then we get Kershaw, but we're competing day in and day out. So no matter who's on the mound, we're going to battle. Hopefully we come out on top more often than not.'
Kenley Jansen (1-0) pitched the eighth, and Javy Guerra pitched the ninth for his third save.
``This is the kind of game we're going to have to play,' Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. ``I don't expect to see us get blown out, and I'm not so sure we're going to blow out a lot of people, so right now there's not much margin for error. There's really no safety net. You've got to earn victories up here, and they earned one today.'
Exactly 50 years after Dodger Stadium opened, Ethier hit a solo shot before emerging from the dugout for a curtain call that didn't seem out of place, even in early April. After two years of mediocrity on the field and increasingly bizarre developments in the front office of Southern California's much-loved team, the Dodgers are off to a 4-1 start to their first season since resolving Frank McCourt's messy ownership tenure.
``Everybody is excited about what's going on right now, and rightfully so,' said Ethier, starting his seventh season with the Dodgers. ``The vibe in this stadium today, that's an addicting feeling. We had that for several years here, and then it went away, and part of that was how we were playing on the field. It felt good to look up and see that support again.'
Kershaw allowed four hits and struck out seven, bouncing back from his first start last week in San Diego, which ended after three innings because of an illness that lingered until recently. He failed to win at home for just the third time in 14 starts, but still hasn't lost at Dodger Stadium since early last season.
NOTES: The Beach Boys, who are also celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, performed before the game and sang the national anthem. Brian Wilson and his fellow members wore Dodgers jerseys with No. 50 on the back. ... Dee Gordon led off the first with a single and scored on a groundout by Kemp, who tied the franchise record for consecutive games with an RBI shared by Roy Campanella and Augie Galan.... Chad Billingsley goes for his second win of the young season when he takes the mound for the Dodgers on Wednesday night against Pittsburgh's Erik Bedard.
The Associated Press News Service
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