Instead, it's proving as tough for the two-time NL West champions to win in Pittsburgh as it was in September.
Ronny Cedeno singled over a drawn-in infield with the bases loaded and one out in the 10th inning, and the Pirates rode Garrett Jones' third homer in two games to a 4-3 victory over the Dodgers on Wednesday night.
The Pirates, winning their second in a row from Los Angeles, hadn't scored since Jones' three-run homer in the first off Clayton Kershaw. But their five relievers combined for five innings of scoreless, one-hit relief.
Cedeno finished off a nine-pitch at-bat against Ramon Ortiz (0-1) with a line-drive single to left. Second baseman Blake DeWitt mishandled Lastings Milledge's grounder before throwing wildly to first and Ortiz walked the bases full to set up Cedeno's first game-ending hit in the majors.
"I was thinking, I can do this, I can do this, and I did," Cedeno said.
The inning began to unravel after DeWitt's error.
"I just didn't make the play, it's a play you should make 100 times out of 100," said DeWitt, who has mostly played third in the majors. "It's unfortunate it happened right there."
"We had plenty of opportunities, we just couldn't get it done," manager Joe Torre said.
The Dodgers managed only five hits against five pitchers, four against starter Ross Ohlendorf, but drew nine walks and left 12 on base. They've now lost five of six in Pittsburgh dating to the final 10 days of last season, when they failed during a four-game weekend to close out the NL West against a Pirates team that had dropped 23 of 26 and was finishing up a 99-loss season.
"A lot of things went wrong," Kershaw said.
A lot of them were in the final two innings.
The Dodgers had the potential go-ahead run at third with nobody out in the ninth after pinch-hitter Jamey Carroll doubled and moved up on Octavio Dotel's wild pitch. But Dotel got Rafael Furcal on a grounder and Matt Kemp and Manny Ramirez on strikeouts around a two-out walk to Andre Ethier. Ramirez is 0 for 8 against Dotel.
"You can't start thinking about it, like `Oh, my, they've got a guy on third, it's the ninth inning,"' Dotel said. "You've got to keep yourself relaxed as much as you can and go pitch by pitch, and that's what I did."
The Pirates, 11-5 winners on opening day, opened a 3-0 lead in the first inning much the same way they jumped out early on Monday -- a home run by Jones.
Kershaw walked Akinori Iwamura -- one of six in 4 2/3 innings -- and Andrew McCutchen singled before Jones hit a waist-high pitch into the seats in right-center. Jones' homer was his 24th in 84 games since being called up by the Pirates in early July last season.
"He has good off-speed stuff, and I was looking to attack the fastball and trying to get a good pitch to hit and not miss it," Jones said. "He left that one about middle in and a little up and I got enough of it to carry it out."
By now, the Dodgers must have figured out that any pitch left up and over the plate to Jones might be a problem.
Russell Martin, dropped back to eighth in the order after batting second on Monday, began the fifth inning with a drive into the right-field seats for the Dodgers' first homer of the season. After third baseman Andy LaRoche threw wildly on Furcal's grounder and Furcal stole second, Kemp doubled in a run and Ethier tied it with a run-scoring single.
- Torre plans to rest Ramirez during Thursday afternoon's game, although the Dodgers were off Tuesday.
- The crowd of 31,061, drawn partly by 80-degree weather and a $1 ticket promotion, was the Pirates' largest for their second home game since 36,048 turned out in 2002.
- Jones struck out in his first two career at-bats against Kershaw.