Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon tosses the ball to second baseman Mark Ellis… (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)
On the field, continued promise. In the stands, familiar disappointment.
The Dodgers continued their winning start to the 2012 season Wednesday, defeating the Pirates, 4-1, to push their record to 5-1 and slip into first place in the National League West.
After attendance plummeted last year, the Dodgers cut ticket prices by an average of 24% this season in an attempt to woo back fans. There might be plenty of wooing left to do.
One night after selling out their home opener, the Dodgers played before an announced crowd of only 29,729. Baseball uses tickets sold for attendance, and much like last season, there appeared to be an unnerving amount of no-shows.
The Pirates are hardly the sexiest draw in the National League, and the cool weather could not have helped walk-up sales, but there had to be organizational disappointment at such a small crowd in only the second home game of the year.
Those who did attend saw the Dodgers overcome an early 1-0 deficit behind a pair of RBIs by Juan Rivera and another strong start by Chad Billingsley.
Billingsley wasn’t quite as dominant as his first outing when he threw 8 1/3 scoreless innings with 11 strikeouts, but he was still plenty effective.
Clint Barmes hammered a solo home run off Billingsley in the third inning, but otherwise the Pirates could not break through against the right-hander. Billingsley left prematurely in the bottom of the sixth for a pinch-hitter, having thrown only 77 pitches. He gave up five hits, struck out four and did not walk a batter.
The Dodgers tied the score in the bottom of the third inning against Erik Bedard after Mark Ellis walked, Matt Kemp beat out an infield single and Rivera drove in his first run with a hit.
The Dodgers took the lead in the sixth inning on consecutive singles by Kemp, Rivera and Andre Ethier. Ethier’s hit scored Kemp, giving him 10 RBIs, tied with St. Louis’ David Freese for tops in the National League.
The Dodgers added two more in the seventh inning, Rivera and pinch-hitter Tony Gwynn Jr. each driving in a run.
The L.A. bullpen again was a strength. Matt Guerrier, Kenley Jansen and Javy Guerra each threw one scoreless inning, Guerra pitching the ninth to earn his fourth save.
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