The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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April 7, 2013

Pirates stymied by Dodgers again

LOS ANGELES — Hyun-Jin Ryu is going to enjoy pitching for a team with the menacing lineup the Los Angeles Dodgers possess, and the hitters have become equally confident with the rotation that’s backing them up.

The South Korean earned his first major league victory, shrugging off a two-run homer in the first inning by Andrew McCutchen and pitching the Dodgers past the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-2 Sunday for a three-game sweep. Adrian Gonzalez drove in four runs with three hits and Justin Sellers homered for Los Angeles.

“Ryu did a good job today,” Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp said. “The first inning was rough, but after that he shut them down. I told him that was all they were going to get today from him, and he did what we asked him to do. We scored some runs for him and got him the W. We know what our offense is capable of doing. And if we stay within ourselves, we’ll be a very successful team.”

Ryu (1-1) allowed two runs and three hits in 6 1⁄3 innings, striking out six and walking two. The 26-year-old lefty signed a $36 million, six-year contract in December after the Dodgers bid $25.7 million to win exclusive rights to negotiate with him.

“The feeling came to me when we were up 4-2. That’s when I actually thought, ‘it could be today,’ ” Ryu said through a translator. “It absolutely felt great to get the first win at Dodger Stadium in front of the home crowd, but most importantly it felt good to help my team get the win today.”

Jeff Locke (0-1) lost in his season debut, giving up four runs and eight hits over six innings. The 25-year-old left-hander, beginning what he hopes will be his first full season in the majors, is 1-7 with a 6.32 ERA and nine home runs allowed in 11 big league starts over a three-year span.

Locke, Pittsburgh’s minor league pitcher of the year last season, was 3-1 with a 2.63 ERA in six starts and one relief outing this spring.

“I feel like I threw the ball really well in the spring, so when you break with this team up here, you’ve got to feel confident,” Locke said. “I felt very confident coming in today, and the results of the game doesn’t change the kind of confidence I have in myself.”

Kemp, who entered the game in a season-opening 1-for-18 slump, gave the Dodgers a 3-2 lead in the third with a sacrifice fly after Carl Crawford led off with a double and advanced on Nick Punto’s sacrifice bunt.

Gonzalez added a run in the fifth with an RBI single. The Dodgers tacked on two more in the seventh against Chris Leroux with Sellers’ leadoff homer and Gonzalez’s run-scoring single.

“We expect him to do big things for us because he’s one of the best first baseman in baseball,” Kemp said of Gonzalez, who was acquired in a blockbuster nine-player trade with Boston last Aug. 25. “What you see is what you get, and that’s what he’s showing right now. He’s hitting the ball well and driving in runs. He stays in the middle of the field. And when you hit lefties well, that’s what happens.”

The lefty-swinging Gonzalez led the majors last season with a .322 average against left-handed pitching.

“Lefties allow me to simplify things,” Gonzalez said. “I tend to get greedy against righties, and I try to drive the ball and I end up pulling off it. But with lefties, I usually just try to take what they give me. I’m not trying to drive the ball, just take a single. And if the ball’s away then I try to go the other way and not get too quick. There’s a perfect swing, and then there’s a swing that gets results. Right now, I have a swing that gets results.”

Starling Marte opened the game with a single and McCutchen hit a one-out drive about five rows into the left field pavilion for the Pirates’ first home run of the season. They had been the only team in the majors without one.

Pittsburgh dropped the first two games of the series 3-0 to Zack Greinke and 1-0 to Clayton Kershaw, getting just two hits against each pitcher.

The Pirates haven’t been shut out in three consecutive games since August 1968.

NOTES: The Pirates’ five-game homerless drought equaled the franchise’s longest from the start of a season since an 11-game stretch in 1943. They also failed to hit one through their first five games in 1998 and 1967. ... The Pirates have gone 4-19 at Dodger Stadium since they last won a series here in 2006. ... McKenry made his season debut behind the plate with Russell Martin getting a day off. Martin is hitless in his first 14 official at-bats with his new club after sending the previous two seasons with the Yankees.

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