MLB

Pirates pounce on Haren early, roll past struggling Dodgers

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The Canadian Press
7/23/2014 11:03:22 PM
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PITTSBURGH -- Dan Haren's promising spring has morphed into a troubling summer. At this point, even he isn't sure when it is going to stop.

The right-hander dropped his fourth straight decision in Los Angeles' 6-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday night, leaving his status very much in doubt as the Dodgers prepare for the stretch drive.

"It's just really gotten away from me the last four times out," Haren said. "I don't what to say. I was having a great year. I felt great about everything, the way I was throwing the ball. But now everything has snowballed and everything that could have gone wrong has gone wrong."

Haren (8-8) is winless with a 9.47 ERA in July and he is well aware he has become the weak link on one of baseball's best pitching staffs. Though manager Don Mattingly said "it's not the right time to talk about (Haren's) future," Haren understands his grasp on his starting job is becoming tenuous.

"I'm going to do anything for the team," Haren said. "If that means I get skipped, I totally understand. It's not like I'm going to march into the office and say, 'You can't do that.' I'm new here. I need to earn their respect."

The Pirates wasted little time getting to Haren. Josh Harrison's two-run double down the left field line capped a four-run outburst that gave Francisco Liriano (2-7) all the offence he would need to win for the first time since May 30.

Pittsburgh improved to 5-1 since the All-Star break to move a season-high seven games over .500 (54-47).

Travis Snider added two hits, including his fifth homer, for the Pirates. Liriano allowed one run on four hits over seven innings to earn his first regular-season home victory in nearly a year.

"I'm not at the point I want to be yet but everything is getting better and everything is moving forward," Liriano said.

For Haren, not so much.

Two singles and a walk in the first loaded the bases with one out before Haren walked Russell Martin on a full count to hand the Pirates the lead. Ike Davis followed with a sacrifice fly, and Harrison sent a stinging double to left to push the advantage to 4-0.

"The first pitch of a game was a strike and then they swing at the next three pitches and I stepped back after that and said to myself that I needed to make better pitches," Haren said. "But then I nibbled around guys and couldn't throw a strike. I just couldn't do anything right."

Snider made it 5-0 when he hit the fifth pitch of the second inning to the last row of seats in right field. Though Haren settled down to eventually retire the last 11 batters he faced, by then the damage was done.

Los Angeles didn't have a hit until Miguel Rojas doubled with one out in the fifth and never threatened as Liriano put together his best start of the year.

It didn't start out that way.

The left-hander has struggled with his command all season and it looked like more of the same in the first after consecutive one-out walks to Matt Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez. Liriano escaped after striking out Scott Van Slyke and getting Juan Uribe to fly out to right.

Liriano didn't let the cushion go to waste. Showing flashes of the form that allowed him to win 16 games in 2013, Liriano kept the Dodgers' patched-together offence off balance. Rojas finally broke through with a sinking line drive to left with one out in the fifth glanced off the glove of Snider.

Los Angeles pulled to 5-1 in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Kemp, but the Dodgers would get no closer as Pittsburgh improved to 34-21 at PNC Park, the best home record in the National League.

NOTES: Dodgers RF Yasiel Puig walked while pinch hitting in the eighth inning, his first appearance since injuring his left wrist against St. Louis on Saturday. ... Los Angeles SS Hanley Ramirez missed his third straight game with a left wrist injury but Mattingly maintains Ramirez is not a candidate to go on the disabled list. ... Pittsburgh placed OF Starling Marte on the seven-day concussion disabled list and recalled INF Brent Morel from Triple-A Indianapolis. Morel singled in the seventh as a pinch-hitter. ... Pirates 3B Pedro Alvarez was held out of the lineup after feeling left knee discomfort while legging out a double in a 12-7 win on Tuesday. ... The Dodgers start a three-game series with NL West-leading San Francisco on Friday. Zach Greinke (11-6, 2.90 ERA) takes on the Giants' Tim Lincecum (9-6, 3.65) in the opener.

Dan Haren  (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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