Greinke, Seager lead Dodgers over Pirates 6-2
LOS ANGELES (AP) Now that their magic number is down to single digits, the Los Angeles Dodgers can almost taste their third straight NL West title.
Zack Greinke posted his career-high 18th victory, rookie sensation Corey Seager hit a two-run homer and Adrian Gonzalez doubled home two more to lead the Dodgers to a 6-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.
The Dodgers' win and San Francisco's loss to Arizona dropped Los Angeles' magic number for clinching the division to eight.
''It's exciting. It's crunch-time. You can kind of feel it in the air,'' Seager said.
Greinke (18-3) was charged with two runs and four hits in seven-plus innings, struck out three and walked two before he was lifted with two on and no outs in the eighth.
The only run the major league ERA leader gave up while he was in the game was a first-pitch homer by Neil Walker, who leads all NL second basemen with 14 home runs, 47 extra-base hits and 62 RBIs.
''It was just right down the middle,'' Greinke said. ''I thought it was a better pitch when it happened, but looking at it, it couldn't have been much worse.''
Greinke, who won a Cy Young Award with Kansas City in 2009, has a chance to become the sixth pitcher to win one in both leagues.
''He had his typical stuff,'' said Pirates catcher Chris Stewart, whose throwing error to third base on a double-steal in the first inning allowed Justin Riggiano to score the game's first run. ''Greinke mixed it up, kept the ball down, threw strikes, got ahead in the count and made some nasty pitches when he needed to.''
Seager continued to make the most of his opportunity in place of injured shortstop Jimmy Rollins. The 18th overall pick in the 2012 draft, is 21 for 51 with two home runs, six doubles and 10 RBIs since his promotion from Triple-A Oklahoma City on Sept. 3.
''That was exciting,'' Seager said of his first Dodger Stadium homer. ''It's always fun to hit home runs. It's really fun, the first one at home. It was fun running around the bases with the crowd and everything. It was a blast.''
Seager's hit total is the second-highest by a Dodger through his first 14 games since the franchise relocated from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958 - four fewer than Yasiel Puig started out with in 2013.
The Dodgers, who are a season-high 24 games over .500, reached the 50-win mark at home for just the third time since 1980 and the first time since 2009 - when they set a modern major league record for home victories to start a season with 13.
Greinke had two hits, including a double over the head of center fielder Andrew McCutchen that chased Pittsburgh starter Jeff Locke with one out in the seventh.
Locke (8-11) was charged with five runs - four earned - and eight hits. The Pirates' fourth straight loss, coupled with St. Louis' 8-3 defeat to the Cubs, kept Pittsburgh five games behind the Cardinals in the Central Division. But the Bucs own the second wild card spot by a sizeable margin over the Giants.
''You know it's going to be a really tough game because Zack has been throwing so great all year, but those are the type of games I want to pitch,'' Locke said. '' You want that competitive stuff running through you.''
The Dodgers increased the lead to 4-1 in the fourth on Seager's first-pitch homer to right and added two more in the seventh on Gonzalez's double off Arquimedes Camerino.
The Pirates played their first game since the season-ending injury to shortstop Jung Ho Kang. The 28-year-old rookie from Korea underwent surgery Thursday night for a broken left tibia and a torn ligament in his knee.
Pirates: LHP Francisco Liriano (10-7) has made only one previous start at Dodger Stadium. That was May 30, 2014, when he threw 5 2-3 scoreless innings and struck out eight in a 2-1 victory.
Dodgers: LHP Clayton Kershaw (14-6) would have to average nine strikeouts in his final four regular-season starts to become the first pitcher with at least 300 in a season since 2002, when Johnson reached that figure for the fourth straight year with the Diamondbacks.