PITTSBURGH -- The Dodgers have struggled against the better teams all season, but after a 6-5 loss to the Pirates on Saturday, they tried to accentuate the positive.
New starting pitcher Mat Latos lasted only four innings and even gave up the first career homer to opposing pitcher Francisco Liriano, a three-run opposite-field blast. The club came out on the losing end of four replay challenges. The offense hit into three double plays and left 11 runners on base.
But manager Don Mattingly pointed out the highlights. He noted that a bullpen (which had been scored upon eight straight games), pitched four scoreless innings. Enrique Hernandez slugged a tying two-run homer. The offense scored one run off Pittsburgh closer Mark Melancon in the ninth inning and, even with a controversial replay decision going against them, they had the tying and go-ahead runs on base when Yasmani Grandal struck out to end it.
Outside of the replays and Latos' outing, Mattingly said, "a lot of good stuff happened today from our standpoint. Swinging the bats again, early on that game could have really went bad for both teams. The bullpens kept the game right there. Our guys kept playing, our bullpen did a great job. Other than the loss and Mat not pitching well, a lot of good things happened."
Still, the Dodgers are 16-26 against teams with winning records and 0-2 in this series. They acquired Latos from the Marlins last week in hopes of reversing that. But after a quality start against the Angels in his debut, Latos gave up two leads, two homers and was gone after four innings. He was charged with six runs in four innings without a strikeout.
"I kept putting the ball in the middle of the plate -- everything," said Latos. "Good hitters over there, you pay a price. Just wasn't able to make the adjustment. I couldn't get the ball down, didn't have a feel for my slider; it had nothing to do with my knee.
"It's just about having a bad day. I didn't have a put-away pitch. The offense showed up today, the defense showed up today. I didn't."
The only lefty in Mattingly's starting lineup was Adrian Gonzalez, who bounced back from an 0-for-5 Friday night with a 3-for-4 and was hit by a pitch. Scott Van Slyke had two hits, two RBIs and threw a runner out at second from left field. Hernandez, who started in center for Joc Pederson, reached base three times.
"It was one of those days," said catcher A.J. Ellis. "You've got to give the Pirates credit. It was a back-and-forth grind, both teams. You kind of knew early that both starting pitchers weren't quite on their game; the pitchers' duel we expected was out the window. I'm really proud of the way we fought these two days."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.