by Alan Robinson
Associated Press Writer
PITTSBURGH (AP)—If only every day could be opening day for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Garrett Jones homered in his first two at-bats, pinch-hitter Ryan Church doubled home three runs and the Pittsburgh Pirates started the new season the way they wound down 2009 by roughing up the Los Angeles Dodgers 11-5 on Monday.
|ROCK SOLID—Andrew McCutchen was honored before the Pirates home opener as he was named the Baseball America 2009 Rookie of the Year. With McCutchen are general manager Neal Huntington and manager John Russell.
On a day when the weather was more like a typical Southern California day in early April than one in Pittsburgh—sunshine, temperatures in the mid 70s—the Pirates played more like the two-time defending NL West champion Dodgers and vice versa.
The Pirates, coming off a record-setting 17th consecutive losing season, won on opening day for the fourth season in a row as Ryan Doumit added a three-run homer in the eighth off reliever George Sherrill. Doumit also doubled and scored twice.
Jones’ two-run drive estimated at 456 feet bounced into the Allegheny River beyond the right-field stands following Akinori Iwamura’s leadoff walk in the first. Jones followed that with an opposite-field shot off Vicente Padilla that found the front row of left-field stands, putting Pittsburgh up 3-2.
The Pirates were forced to yank starter Zach Duke in the fifth after only 79 pitches because they are batting the pitcher eighth, and Duke was due up with a one in and the bases loaded.
Duke (1-0) gave up two runs on seven hits over five innings.
The Pirates have cut payroll—again—since then, and their estimated $34 million in salaries are at their lowest level since the bargain-basement $10 million team of 1997. Their payroll is about that of 1992, when the Pirates last had a winning record and won their division.
The crowd of 39,024 was the fourth largest at PNC Park.