POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Aug 14, 2012
PITTSBURGH » No matter what uniform he’s wearing, Shane Victorino always gives the Pittsburgh Pirates trouble.
The newly acquired outfielder hit his first homer in Dodger Blue and drove in three runs to lift Los Angeles to a 5-4 victory on Monday night.
Picked up from Philadelphia at the trade deadline to give the Dodgers an experienced bat as they try to make it back to the postseason for the first time in three years, Victorino was his usual pesky self at the top of the lineup as Los Angeles tied San Francisco for the NLWest lead and drew within 112 games of the Pirates for the second wild-card spot.
“He’s been through it — playoff runs the last three or four years, World Series,” said Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly. “They just get hardened, and this is not going to overwhelm him down the stretch.”
Victorino never looks overwhelmed against the Pirates. He came in with a career .325 average against Pittsburgh, a number that rose after he doubled home A.J. Ellis in the third to give the Dodgers an early lead then drilled a two-run shot off Jeff Karstens (4-3) into the right-field seats to put them in front to stay.
“I just keep plugging along,” Victorino said. “There’s nothing different that I’ve done. You know when you’ve got confidence and you feel good at the plate, yeah, things kind of keep going that way.”
Matt Kemp added two hits for the Dodgers, while Aaron Harang (8-7) pitched six effective innings to snap a modest two-game losing streak. Kenley Jansen worked a perfect ninth for his 24th save.
Los Angeles has won four of five to keep pressure on NL West-leading San Francisco.
“I look at it like the NCAA Tournament; you look at it like you can’t lose,” Mattingly said. “I think that’s the way we want to play, is that we can’t afford to lose any games, so that’s just the way I look at it.”
Garrett Jones had four hits and drove in all three Pirate runs but couldn’t stop Pittsburgh from falling for the fourth time in its last five games.
And the Dodgers are coming on now that their new guys have started to settle in.
Shortstop Hanley Ramirez played lights out over the weekend as the Dodgers took a weekend series in Miami. On Monday, it was Victorino’s turn. The two-time All-Star had gotten off to a bit of a sluggish start in his new digs but came to life against the Pirates.
Then again, he always does.
“It was an all-around good performance,” Victorino said. “We jumped out early, scored some runs, they came back and answered.
“But we answered back.”