LOS ANGELES (AP) - The stark difference in James McDonald's performance for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Ted Lilly's for the Los Angeles Dodgers was evident on the scoreboard and in their respective pitching lines.
McDonald matched his shortest outing in 30 starts this season, throwing 76 pitches over three innings and giving up five runs on seven hits in the Pirates' 6-1 loss to the Dodgers on Saturday night. It was his first appearance against the team that drafted him in the 11th round of the 2002 draft and brought him up to the majors for the first time in 2008.
``It's all what the player makes of it. There's no way around some of the emotional ties that can come with that,' Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. ``You always have a first girlfriend, you always have a first organization. And that was his first organization, so I'm sure he developed some friendships and established some relationships that he'll keep for a long time.
``Whether he was caught up in the competition of the other team, I don't know,' Hurdle added. ``Obviously, there might be some room for growth there - to pat down his emotions. I haven't spoken to him about that. But if it was just a command thing, we've just got to move past this and get it back on track for the next start.'
The Pirates acquired McDonald (9-9) from Los Angeles at last year's non-waiver trade deadline. Saturday was the third anniversary of his big league debut, when he pitched a perfect inning of relief at Pittsburgh and struck out two. He was 5-6 with a 4.11 ERA in 53 appearances with Los Angeles, including five starts - none of which lasted longer than five innings.
``Maybe I tried to put too much emphasis on this outing because it was the Dodgers,' McDonald said. ``Maybe I let the game speed up instead of just kind of stepping back and slowing it down. It's something I'll learn from. I wasn't getting ahead of guys. When you get behind good hitters who have an idea, things are not going to work out your way. I should have been more aggressive in the strike zone early in the count.'
Despite McDonald's outing, Hurdle is optimistic about the lanky right-hander's future.
``The conversations that I heard when I got here were that they loved the arm. They loved the frame and the downhill angle he can create. And then the more they dug, they loved the young man just as much,' Hurdle said. ``It wasn't just about a tool set. I think it was about a person they thought would mature and develop and mature. He had an intense desire to pitch and wanted to start, and we had more fertile of an opportunity to get him into the rotation than there was in L.A. at the time.'
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly hoped McDonald succeeds with his new team.
``The thing about J-Mac is, you like his deception,' Mattingly said. ``He's a big kid with an easy motion, a good breaking ball. When he first came up, he really pitched good out of the pen, and at times he got it up there pretty good. I'm not sure why it didn't work out for him here. When he got his opportunities, he was just OK, but it wasn't consistent. But I actually liked J-Mac, and he's getting a chance to pitch now. I haven't really looked at his numbers, but I've seen that he's thrown some good games.'
Pirates catcher Matt Pagnozzi, the nephew of former St. Louis catcher Tom Pagnozzi, made his Pirates debut in the fifth as a pinch-hitter for reliever Aaron Thompson and hit an opposite-field single on the second pitch he saw. Pagnozzi became the 52nd player used by the Pirates, breaking the previous club record set last season.
``That wasn't a record we set out to break before the season started. That was not on our checklist,' Hurdle said. ``But when you get a number like that, there's a reason for it. We're had our share (of injuries), but we've pushed through and dealt with it the best we can.'
The Dodgers grabbed a 3-0 lead in the first, as James Loney drove a first-pitch homer into the pavilion seats in right-center for his 11th of the season and the 23rd allowed by McDonald. In Friday's series opener, Loney ended a homerless drought of 57 at_bats on a full count against reliever Chris Resop while pinch-hitting for Justin Sellers in the sixth inning of the Dodgers' 7-2 win.
Lilly (10-14) allowed a run and four hits, struck out seven and walked two. The two-time All-Star, winding up his first full season with the Dodgers, joined CC Sabathia and Mark Buehrle as the only left-handers to reach double digits in wins during each of the last nine seasons. Lilly has a 2.67 ERA over his last 10 starts, lowering his overall figure to 4.27.
All-Star Matt Kemp scored his 100th run in the third inning on Rivera's homer and stole his 40th base in the sixth, becoming the first player in Dodgers franchise history with at least 40 steals, 100 runs scored, 100 RBIs and 30 home runs.
Kemp led off the third with a single and Rivera followed with his fourth home run since joining the Dodgers in a trade with Toronto on the day of the All-Star game. Los Angeles increased the margin to 6-1 in the fifth, when Tim Federowicz singled home Aaron Miles for his first RBI in the major leagues.
Notes: Once Pagnozzi gets behind the plate, he will become the eighth different catcher used this season by manager Clint Hurdle - the most by the Pirates since 1953 and one shy of the franchise record set in 1914. ... RHP Kenley Jansen relieved Nathan Eovaldi with the bases loaded and one out in the Pirates sixth, striking out Ryan Ludwick and pinch-hitter Garrett Jones. ... The Pirates are 17-40 since July 19, when they were 51-44 and led the NL Central by a half-game. They have since plummeted to a season-worse 21 games out of first place.
The Associated Press News Service
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