Cloud 90: Dodgers ride August win to rare air

Cloud 90: Dodgers ride August win to rare air

PITTSBURGH -- For 10 innings Wednesday night, the Dodgers couldn't scratch across the one run they would need to support Rich Hill's no-hit bid. They stranded 11 runners in that game and 15 more Thursday afternoon, but they found enough offense to support Hyun-Jin Ryu and secure their 90th victory, a 5-2 win over the Pirates at PNC Park.

Curtis Granderson hit his third homer of the week, which bounced into the Allegheny River, and Enrique Hernandez -- starting at shortstop on his 26th birthday in place of Corey Seager -- delivered a key two-out RBI single in the seventh inning. Yasmani Grandal and Adrian Gonzalez gave the bullpen some breathing room with back-to-back homers off reliever Angel Sanchez in the eighth.

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It was all the offense the Dodgers needed behind Ryu, who continued his strong second half by allowing only one run on four hits over six innings.

Ryu's terrific outing

The Dodgers became the first team since the 2001 Mariners to reach 90 wins within their first 126 games and just the sixth team to do so since 1913. This is also the earliest the Dodgers have ever reached 90 wins, beating the previous record by date (Aug. 31, 1953) and games played (131, 1942 and '53).

"I like wins," said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. "I don't know where we were at last year, but it was toward the end of September with 90 wins. After last night's game, we showed again that we find a way to come back from a loss with a win."

Right-hander Chad Kuhl kept the Pirates close but quickly ran up a high pitch count, exiting after allowing two runs and throwing 92 pitches in four innings.

"I had some rough innings where the pitch count got up. Misfiring, didn't get some calls. Nothing really went my way," Kuhl said. "I went four innings. You don't really get any satisfaction out of going four innings. We kept them off the board, but it's still not a good game."

While the Dodgers improved to 55-11 since June 7, the Pirates lost for the ninth time in their last 12 games. Pittsburgh fell 8 1/2 games behind the National League Central-leading Cubs and the second NL Wild Card spot. The Dodgers won six of seven games against the Pirates this season; the one they lost was Wednesday, when Hill threw nine hitless innings.

"We're in the hunt every game. But again, coming close doesn't work up here," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "You've got to keep hunting. You've got to find a way to pass them. You've got to find a way to beat them. There's a fine line. ... You've got to meet the demands of the game. That team [the Dodgers] continues to meet the demands of the game."

Brandon Morrow pitched the ninth inning for his first save since 2009, as Roberts gave a second day of rest to closer Kenley Jansen, who had pitched in four of five games.

Morrow notches the save

"To be able to give Kenley two days off and feel good about it, that you have the coverage, is a credit to guys in the 'pen," said Roberts. "Kenley's paid vacation is over. He's available tomorrow."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Grand exit: The Dodgers and Pirates traded runs in the second inning, then Granderson broke the tie with his third home run in six games as a Dodger. The veteran outfielder got ahead of Kuhl, 2-0, then launched a Statcast-projected 393-foot solo shot to right field -- his 22nd homer overall -- to give the Dodgers a 2-1 lead.

Granderson's solo homer

"He swings at strikes and takes balls and conducts an at-bat, he's a pro on defense and he's in on every single pitch," Roberts said of the recently acquired outfielder. "He came in here with a lot of high billing, and he's done everything we expect."

Rally stopper: The Pirates threatened to tie the game in the seventh, as Jordy Mercer doubled off Josh Fields and scored on Adam Frazier's single off former Pirates closer Tony Watson. With runners on first and third and their lead down to one run, the Dodgers summoned right-hander Pedro Baez to face Andrew McCutchen. Baez won the battle, striking out McCutchen on four pitches and stranding the potential tying run at third base.

Baez fans Cutch, escapes trouble

QUOTABLE
"Kiké made seven or eight plays, he was in the right spot and converted a lot of tough plays. He had that big two-out hit, a walk, another hit. He really played well. It's only fitting. It was his birthday." -- Roberts, on Hernandez

Hernandez's RBI single

"They've got 90 wins for a reason. They've got some guys that are having career years. It's funny that we didn't see [Cody] Bellinger the whole time, but I don't think they really needed him. ... It always starts with pitching. They got good starting pitching this series, and I think that was the difference."-- Mercer, on losing six of seven to the Dodgers this season

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Dodgers are unbeaten in their last 22 series dating back to June 9, posting an 19-0-3 series record during that stretch.

Los Angeles is now 26-10 after a loss, putting the club on pace for the third-best record in the divisional era (since 1969) following a defeat. The 2005 Cardinals finished 49-13 in those situations, while the 1995 Indians went 33-11.

HURDLE EJECTED
Hurdle was ejected in the seventh inning by home-plate umpire Paul Emmel. Chris Taylor appeared to take a called third strike from reliever Johnny Barbato, and Emmel seemed poised to ring him up. But Emmel backed down, and Taylor walked to first base. That upset Hurdle, who was ejected before leaving the dugout to argue with Emmel. It was Hurdle's fourth ejection of the season.

Hurdle ejected in the 7th

"He went to punch him out and he stopped," Hurdle said. "It's a strike he's called throughout the game."

UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Logan Forsythe ripped a line drive to McCutchen for seemingly the final out of the eighth inning. McCutchen caught the ball and took a step or two before trying to transfer the ball to his right hand, then the ball fell to the outfield grass. The play was initially ruled a hit, but the Pirates challenged the call. It was quickly overturned and ruled an out.

Cutch makes catch after review

WHAT'S NEXT
Dodgers: Kenta Maeda (aka "Maeken" for Players Weekend) gets the 7:10 p.m. PT start Friday against the Brewers in the opener of the three-game homestand. Maeda is coming off a strange outing in Detroit, where he threw five perfect innings before allowing four runs in the sixth for a loss. He's 7-2 in his last 10 starts.

Pirates: Ivan Nova (aka "Super Nova" for Players Weekend) will start for the Pirates as they begin a three-game series in Cincinnati at 7:05 p.m. ET on Friday at Great American Ball Park. The Bucs have struggled to handle the fifth-place Reds this season, losing eight of their first 10 matchups. Each of Pittsburgh's next 28 games will come against NL Central competition.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.