PITTSBURGH (AP) Chad Kuhl seemingly didn't stand much of a chance in his major league debut against a three-time National League Cy Young Award winner on a nine-game winning streak.
Yet Kuhl pitched five effective innings and David Freese hit a three-run double that sent the Pittsburgh Pirates past Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3 on Sunday night.
''That's one of the beautiful things about sport,'' Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. ''You can't write that story before the game. You wouldn't have that in there anywhere and it plays itself out on the national stage.''
Kuhl (1-0) allowed three runs and four hits in five innings after getting called up from Triple-A Indianapolis before the game. The 23-year-old righty struck out five and walked four after going 6-2 with a 2.58 ERA in 14 minor league starts.
''It's something really special, I have a lot of respect for that guy,'' Kuhl said of beating Kershaw. ''That's something to dream about, my debut was against Kershaw, so that was incredible.''
Kershaw (11-2) took his second loss of the season exactly two months after he was beaten by Miami on April 26. He gave up four runs and nine hits in six innings, striking out four and walking two.
''Sometimes I think we all forget that he's not perfect, but he's not perfect,'' Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. ''He is going to lose a game now and again.''
Freese's big hit capped a four-run second. Pittsburgh rookie Adam Frazier drove in the first run with a single after entering in top of the inning when shortstop Jordy Mercer was injured.
''What it comes down to is a couple of misfires and not being able to minimize the damage,'' Kershaw said. ''I misfired on a pitch to Frazier and one to Freese that really hurt. I tried to the get a fastball inside on Freese and obviously didn't get it in nearly far enough.''
The Pirates have won three in a row against the Dodgers after losing 13 of 15 overall and can sweep the four-game series Monday. Los Angeles arrived on a six-game winning streak.
Mark Melancon pitched a perfect ninth for his 22nd save in 23 opportunities, combining with Juan Nicasio and A.J. Schugel for four scoreless innings of relief.
Justin Turner drove in all three Dodgers runs and had two of their four hits. He hit a two-run homer, his 11th, off Kuhl in the third and pulled Los Angeles to 4-3 with a double in the fifth.
Turner attempted to score the tying run on an errant pitch by Kuhl. However, the ball caromed back to catcher Chris Stewart and he threw to Kuhl, who tagged out Turner at home plate to end the inning.
''That's Stewart's play,'' Kuhl said. ''It was unbelievable to get back there and he put the ball right on my chest.''
Frazier and Stewart both had two hits for the Pirates. Mercer extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a single before getting injured.
Pirates: Mercer left with head and right ear discomfort but said he felt ''much better'' after the game. He was injured when he slid into second base and got tangled with Dodgers 2B Chase Utley while successfully breaking up an attempted double play on Freese's grounder to shortstop. ... RHP Gerrit Cole (strained triceps) threw off a mound for the first time since leaving his June 10 start against St. Louis, but there is no timetable for his return. ... RF Gregory Polanco (left leg discomfort) did not start for a third straight game. He struck out as a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning.
GONZO GETS A BREAK
Dodgers 1B Adrian Gonzalez did not start. He grounded out as a pinch-hitter in the seventh and stayed in the game. Gonzalez will be out of the lineup again Monday as he is being given a ''mental break'' by Roberts. Gonzalez, a five-time All-Star, is hitting .181 in 23 games this month.
Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen was ejected by home plate umpire Chris Conroy for arguing a called third strike to end the seventh inning. McCutchen turned around and pointed toward Conroy's face and also threw his bat.
Pirates LHP Kyle Lobstein was optioned to Indianapolis to open a roster spot for Kuhl. RHP Curtis Partch, who was pitching at Indianapolis, was designated for assignment to clear a spot on the 40-man roster.
Dodgers: LHP Scott Kazmir (5-3, 4.52 ERA) is 2-0 over his last six starts and will be making his first appearance in Pittsburgh since June 27, 2008, with Tampa Bay.
Pirates: LHP Francisco Liriano (4-7, 5.17 ERA) is on a four-game losing streak but has a 4-0 career record against the Dodgers with a 2.73 ERA in five starts.