The Pirates are perhaps a pitch or a play away from being undefeated on the season. Or, one could look at it that with a few bounces the other way, they could still be looking for their first victory of the year.
Instead, the Pirates will look to move above. .500 this evening as they continue a three-game series with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
For a franchise that dates back to 1887, the Pirates have begun a season with four straight one-run games for the first time in team history. They have sandwiched a pair of losses around their two wins, failing to secure a third straight victory with yesterday's 2-1 setback.
Andre Ethier celebrated his 30th birthday with a two-out solo homer in the bottom of the eighth inning off Pirates reliever Jason Grilli and reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw bounced back from a flu-shortened season debut to hurl seven innings of one-run ball, striking out seven and giving up four hits in a no-decision.
"If I had to kiss my twenties goodbye," said Ethier, "it's a nice way to do it."
Matt Kemp matched a Dodgers franchise record by driving in a run for the ninth straight game dating back to last season, equaling the streak first set by a pair of Brooklyn Dodgers in Augie Galan (1944) and Roy Campanella (1955).
Los Angeles won its fifth straight season opener and is now 4-1 on the season.
Alex Presley had two hits and a run scored for the Pirates, who were coming off two straight wins over the Philadelphia Phillies. Pittsburgh starter Kevin Correia went six innings, giving up one run on four hits and two walks while striking out three.
"You have to earn victories and they earned it today," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. "Clayton brought his 'A' game."
Pirates starter Erik Bedard is coming off perhaps the toughest one-run decision his club has endured this year. Matched up against Philadelphia's Roy Halladay last Thursday, the 31-year-old gave up just one run over seven innings but still suffered a 1-0 defeat.
"You got to try to match [Halladay] and I did my best," Bedard said.
Bedard will try to pick up a win tonight and continue his solid success against the National League, which he is 8-4 against with a 1.79 ERA in 19 starts.
The left-hander has faced the Dodgers only once before in his career and did not factor into the decision of that June 17, 2004 outing while with Baltimore. Bedard allowed a run over five innings of his club's 4-3 loss.
Chad Billingsley will aim to build off a great first start of the 2012 campaign tonight for the Dodgers.
The right-hander faced the Padres on Friday and held them scoreless over 8 1/3 innings. Billingsley gave up three hits and walked one while striking out 11, retiring 16 straight batters before giving up a one-out hit in the ninth to end his outing.
"I was getting ahead with my fastball and was able to mix in all my off-speed pitches and it was just one of those days where everything felt really good," said Billingsley. "Good tempo, good rhythm."
Billingsley, 27, is 5-1 with a 4.19 ERA in 10 games (6 starts) over his career against the Pirates. He split two decisions against them last season with a 3.00 ERA.
The Dodgers won six of eight versus the Pirates last season, winning three of four in Los Angeles while plating 30 runs. They have won 12 of their past 14 at home against Pittsburgh.