Although he’s been banged-up throughout much of the season, 34-year-old Josh Beckett is pitching like a young ace for the NL West co-leading Los Angeles Dodgers.
In his first start off the disabled list, the right-hander will try to extend his scoreless streak on the road while leading the Dodgers to their third straight win Tuesday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Los Angeles (56-45) opted to skip Beckett in his final start before the All-Star break because of a left hip impingement, but he’s expected to return in the second of this three-game set after a cortisone injection alleviated some of the pain.
Beckett (6-5, 2.26 ERA) was forced to exit his last outing July 6 when he felt a twinge in his left hip while running the bases after allowing three hits over five shutout innings in an 8-2 win at Colorado.
"If he has to miss a turn or something in there somewhere, then we would do that, but really at this point he’s only missed one turn and we feel pretty good," manager Don Mattingly told MLB’s official website.
Beckett has pitched well since throwing a no-hitter at Philadelphia on May 25. He’s posted a 1.74 ERA while limiting opponents to two earned runs or less in eight of nine starts over a stretch that began with the historic outing.
The three-time All-Star has been particularly outstanding on the road, where he hasn’t given up a run in 27 innings while winning his last four starts. He also owns the fifth-best ERA in the majors overall as he tries to lead the Dodgers to their eighth three-game win streak this season.
"I feel like as long as I’m not messing up my mechanics and I feel like I can get people out, I’m just going to ride it out until the end of the year," Beckett said.
Beckett is 1-2 with a 2.16 ERA in three career starts versus Pittsburgh (52-47), but will make his first appearance at PNC Park. In his only meeting this season, he allowed two runs over five innings in a 2-1 loss at Dodger Stadium on May 30.
The short-handed Dodgers hope to keep producing offensively after finishing with 12 hits – their highest total in 10 games – in Monday’s 5-2 win that kept them in a virtual tie with San Francisco atop the NL West.
Adrian Gonzalez had three hits and reached base five times, raising his average to .448 in his last 16 games versus Pittsburgh.
The first baseman helped Los Angeles overcome the absence of Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez, whose X-rays were negative Monday after both were hit on the hand by pitches over the weekend.
Andrew McCutchen had two of Pittsburgh’s six hits as its six-game home winning streak came to an end.
”We battled and stayed in the game the best we could,” manager Clint Hurdle said. ”We just couldn’t add on after the fourth.”
Pittsburgh’s Vance Worley (2-1, 3.38) makes his first start since a rough five-inning effort in a loss at St. Louis on July 8. The right-hander had given the rotation a tremendous boost, going 2-1 with a 2.28 ERA in his previous four starts.
Worley has gone 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA in his two starts at PNC Park, but he’s surrendered nine runs over eight innings in two career outings versus Los Angeles.