PITTSBURGH — Jose Tabata slid, stuck out his glove and popped up as if he knew what he was doing.
With a flick of the wrist, the Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder threw the ball to second baseman Neil Walker, who then fired to first to double off Los Angeles’ Matt Kemp.
Did Tabata really catch the sinking liner by Juan Uribe that ended up being the turning point in Pittsburgh’s 4-1 win Monday night?
“In the moment, hey, I got it,” Tabata said.
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Third base umpire Mike DiMuro agreed, ruling it an out even though replays appeared to show otherwise. It was all the spark the surging Pirates needed to move above .500 in mid-May for the first time in seven years.
Tabata’s acting and some timely hitting lifted Pittsburgh to its third straight victory.
Uribe and Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly were ejected disputing the call, and the Pirates responded following their departure by scoring three runs in the eighth to move to 18-17 on the season.
It’s not much, but for a club battling to snap a streak of 18 consecutive losing seasons, it’s something to build on.
“We’re going on from here,” Pittsburgh center fielder Andrew McCutchen said. “We’re just wanting to carry it over.”
Garrett Jones led off the eighth with a walk before Walker laced a shot into the right-field corner off Los Angeles starter Chad Billingsley (2-2). Pinch-runner Xavier Paul scored all the way from first to give the Pirates a 2-1 lead.
Lyle Overbay and Ryan Doumit followed with a pair of run-scoring doubles to make a winner out of Jose Veras (1-1). Joel Hanrahan worked his way out of a little trouble in the ninth to pick up his 11th save.
The Dodgers have lost seven of nine, and lost their cool in the eighth with the score tied at one.
Veras hit Kemp with a 3-2 pitch and the Dodgers appeared to be in business as Uribe’s liner tailed away from Tabata. Though Mattingly came out to argue after DiMuro called it a catch, it wasn’t enough for Uribe, who voiced his displeasure with DiMuro when the Dodgers returned to the field.
“I saw the one that everybody else saw,” Uribe said.
DiMuro ejected Uribe, and Mattingly soon followed his third baseman to the clubhouse.
“From our dugout, the guys saw it bounce and that was it,” Mattingly said. “At that point, you want to get the call right.”
The turn of good fortune seemed to energize the Pirates and disrupt Billingsley’s rhythm. He had little trouble the first seven innings but ran out of steam shortly after Uribe’s eruption. Jones led off with a walk and Walker followed with his double and the Pirates didn’t let up. Overbay and Doumit — whose three-run homer in the eighth against the Astros on Sunday brought the team back to .500 — smacked a pair of big hits to give Pittsburgh all the breathing room it would need.