PITTSBURGH -- Dana Eveland's return to Pittsburgh -- and to the Majors -- was 15 months coming. He'd been through quite a bit since, but Thursday's performance made it look like he might be staying in the big leagues for a while.
Eveland was strong in making his first start of the season and the Dodgers stayed hot, beating the Pirates, 6-4, in a rain makeup game on Thursday afternoon at PNC Park.
Officially called up Thursday to pitch in a game originally scheduled for May 12, Eveland allowed one run on six hits in eight efficient innings, as the Dodgers won their fourth straight and ninth of their last 10.
"I've done it up here before; it's not the first time that I've won a game up here, so I didn't really have any nerves or anything," Eveland said of his first Major League win since Sept. 20, 2009. "I just treated it like another day on the mound. It doesn't matter where I'm at; I'm gonna go out and do my thing."
Eveland hadn't pitched in the Majors since June 2010 for Pittsburgh and went 12-8 with a 4.38 ERA for Triple-A Albuquerque this season. Thursday, he did not issue a walk, did not allow an extra-base hit until his second-to-last batter, and retired 11 consecutive at one point. Eveland finished with three strikeouts.
"He was good, he threw strikes, got the breaking ball over, made them basically swing the bat," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "He had a pretty good idea of what he's doing. You can see why he's been successful [in Triple-A], that's for sure."
Dee Gordon went 2-for-5 with a run and two RBIs on the day he was reinstated from the disabled list for the Dodgers, who were playing their second of three games in three different cities in three days. They pulled to within four games of .500 for the first time since June 7 and to within 5 1/2 games of the second-place Giants in the National League West.
James Loney, Matt Kemp and A.J. Ellis also each had two hits and scored a run, and Aaron Miles had a two-run single for Los Angeles in the first inning, which was coming off a sweep of the Padres at home. The Dodgers begin a three-game series in Atlanta Friday.
"Obviously [Eveland] gave the Dodgers everything they were looking for in a spot start," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He threw strikes and he did change speeds and he was able to get the ball in on our right-handed hitters."
Miles' single that scored Gordon and Kemp in the first would give Eveland (1-0) an early lead that the Dodgers never gave up. Tony Gwynn Jr. hit a sacrifice fly later in the inning, and Loney came home on a passed ball by Ryan Doumit in the seventh. Gordon put the game away with a two-run double in the eighth.
Pirates starter Brad Lincoln settled down after the three-run first, tossing five scoreless thereafter. Lincoln (1-1) allowed six hits and three walks and had three strikeouts.
Alex Presley hit his second home run and Doumit had three hits and scored for the Pirates, who themselves are in the midst of a three-games-in-three-cities-in-three-days stretch. The Bucs have lost 10 of their last 13 contests.
"[Eveland] threw well and he threw a lot of strikes and forced us into a lot of weak contact," Presley said.
Eveland said he wasn't completely healthy when he was with the Pirates for less than three weeks last June, allowing nine runs in 9 2/3 innings over three appearances. He had offseason elbow surgery, then sustained a strained hamstring during his first workout of Spring Training.
Eveland, who won nine games for the Athletics in 2008, was relegated to the minor-league spring camp -- and then he also took a line drive off the injured hamstring making a spring start there.
Then came five months of pitching in Triple-A, where his catcher, Ellis, said, "I think he was head and shoulders the best pitcher in the [Pacific Coast League] this year." But a call-up to the Majors didn't come until September.
"I thought that eventually I might get my chance," Eveland said. "But I couldn't be upset with it, really, either, with the arms they have up here. You've got a bunch of good pitchers ... so I wasn't mad about that. I had no hard feelings at all and I was excited when I did get my opportunity."
With the Dodgers up 6-1 and Eveland done after eight solid innings, Presley hit a two-run homer off of Blake Hawksworth. The Pirates actually got the tying run on with no outs against Kenley Jansen. But after Neil Walker hit a sacrifice fly, Jansen struck out the final two hitters of the game for his third save.
One run was charged to Jansen, his first in 18 games dating to May 28, snapping a scoreless streak of 19 innings.
But that wasn't enough to ruin what was a good, abbreviated stay in the Steel City.
"It was good to get this one," Mattingly said. "This is a push day for us. We had that 12 p.m. game yesterday and then traveling knowing that you're going to basically [not going to] sleep, come, play and leave again, so it's another one of those days when you've got to kind of push yourself to get focused and you know there's not going to be anybody in the seats for the most part and, to come and try to get yourself ready to play."
Chris Adamski is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.