HEADLINE

Dodgers ready to keep flexing muscles vs. Pirates

The Sports Xchange

July 04, 2018 at 12:13 am.

LOS ANGELES — The Pittsburgh Pirates are undecided on a starter for Wednesday’s series finale against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and volunteers might be hard to come by.

The Dodgers’ offense is coming off a productive June when they hit 55 home runs, most in a calendar month in franchise history. And at the start of July, they look even better.

First the Dodgers crushed the Pirates on Monday to the tune of 17 runs and 21 hits. On Tuesday it was six home runs, including back-to-back homers from Joc Pederson and Max Muncy to lead off the game. Muncy went deep twice and has 20 on the season.

So with scheduled starter Joe Musgrove headed to the disabled list with a finger infection, the Pirates must send somebody else to the wolves.

Right-hander Clay Holmes (0-0, 2.25 ERA) is expected to make his first start of the season for Pittsburgh on Wednesday. He has pitched in two games for the Pirates this season, and he threw two hitless, scoreless innings in his most recent appearance June 24 against Arizona. He has never faced the Dodgers.

The Dodgers’ Rich Hill (1-3, 4.68) will make his fourth start since coming off the disabled list because of a blister on the middle finger of his left hand.

On Friday, Hill faced the Colorado Rockies and gave up one run on six hits over 6 2/3 innings with 10 strikeouts. He threw 110 pitches in that game, validating the series of laser treatments he received while out of action.

“I was really pleased with the consistency of the flight of the ball,” Hill said after his last outing, according to the Los Angeles Times. “The way the curveball came out of my hand, the consistency of that. Everything really came together tonight.”

Hill is 3-2 lifetime against the Pirates with a 3.25 ERA over nine starts, although he is a far different pitcher than the first time he squared off against them in 2006.

Holmes faces a major challenge against the Dodgers’ potent offense. When Matt Kemp went 5-for-5 with a homer on Monday, it gave him a hit in eight consecutive at-bats.

Also homering for the Dodgers on Tuesday were Yasmani Grandal, Enrique Hernandez and Chris Taylor.

The Dodgers’ run-scoring onslaught has left the Pirates reeling. Not only did the Pirates’ bullpen absorb five innings Monday, it was called on for three more innings Tuesday. Tuesday’s starter, Ivan Nova, allowed seven runs on nine hits in his five-plus innings.

“We’ve been a little short on the front end of things, which has provided some complications on the bullpen,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said, according to mlb.com.

The Dodgers will see their 10-game homestand come to an end Wednesday, but their Southern California stay is just beginning. Next up is a “road trip” to Anaheim and San Diego, before three more home games to close out the first half.

The Pirates are 2-3 on their six-game tour of Southern California, having faced the San Diego Padres before arriving in Los Angeles. They are 4-4 on their nine-game road trip, which also included a stop in New York to face the Mets.