Pirates 7, Dodgers 6

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PITTSBURGH (AP)—A familiar start for the Los Angeles Dodgers, a multiple-run lead in the first inning. A familiar start for the Pittsburgh Pirates, too, with another big deficit to overcome.

Only this time the Pirates found a way to come back and win, preventing their worst start to a season since 1955.

Ryan Doumit hit one of Pittsburgh’s four homers and drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning Tuesday night to help the Pirates rally for a 7-6 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Jeromy Burnitz added a two-run homer, and Craig Wilson and Doumit each hit a solo shot as the Pirates came back from deficits of 3-0, 5-2 and 6-3 to avoid their first 1-8 start in 51 years. Pittsburgh lost six of seven on a weeklong road trip, then dropped its home opener to the Dodgers 8-3 Monday, falling behind early in nearly every game.

“We’ve stayed in a lot of games, and we’re showing we can compete,” Burnitz said. “This team is going to battle every night. There’s a lot of joy in the fight around here … and I think you’re going to see a lot of that all year.”

The Pirates only wish they didn’t have to keep fighting back every night.

The Dodgers scored two or more runs in the first inning for the sixth time in eight games as Ricky Ledee, a last-minute lineup substitution, hit a two-run homer during a three-run inning against right-hander Ian Snell. Bill Mueller later hit two solo homers during first career four-hit game.

But Jae Seo repeatedly couldn’t hold leads in his first Dodgers start, giving up five runs and seven hits in five innings. Burnitz quickly got the Pirates back in the game with his two-run drive—his second—off Seo in the first, and Jack Wilson had a run-scoring single in the third before he and Doumit hit their solo homers in the fifth.

Despite the Dodgers’ numerous early leads, they have a 4-4 record—though, to Jeff Kent, that’s hardly a reason for concern.

“I think we’re playing good baseball. We’re getting a lot of hits, scoring a lot of runs, despite playing in bad weather except for the last two days. I remember last year we were 12-2 and we were supposed to be going to the World Series,” Kent said, recalling a team that went on to win 71 games.

The Pirates’ two-run sixth started when Craig Wilson, in the lineup only because Sean Casey was a late scratch with a bruised rib cage, hit a tying homer off reliever Lance Carter (0-1). It was the Pirates’ third homer in a span of seven batters. Joe Randa followed with a double down the left-field line and, after Jose Castillo’s groundout, scored on Doumit’s sacrifice fly.

“I think it shows a lot about this team, this shows what we’re capable of,” Jack Wilson said of the comeback.

Doumit was as happy with the sacrifice fly as he was the home run, saying, “We hit a lot of home runs, but when we had to play small ball to win the game, we did. I just hope this is the start of something.”

Carter, like most of the Dodgers’ relievers, is being used in various roles. But he said the unsettled bullpen alignment didn’t contribute to his ineffective outing.

“I need to go pitch when they tell me to pitch,” he said. “What my role is, that’s not my job to determine.”

Pirates reliever Salomon Torres (1-1), by contrast, followed up Snell’s ineffective start—six runs and 10 hits in five innings—with two shutout relief innings for the victory.

Roberto Hernandez pitched a scoreless eighth before left-hander Mike Gonzalez threw five pitches in the ninth for his first save this season and the fourth of his career.

Mostly because Seo couldn’t match the string of effective starts he made last season for the Mets, the Pirates beat the Dodgers for only the second time in 11 games and the fourth time in 23 games. The Dodgers were 16-3 in Pittsburgh and 28-7 overall against the Pirates the last six seasons, including a 27-7 record from 2001-05 under new Pirates manager Jim Tracy.

Seo allowed three runs or fewer in 11 of 14 starts with the Mets last year and was very effective in the World Baseball Classic last month, allowing one earned run in 14 innings for South Korea.

Notes

Ledee started because Jose Cruz Jr. was pulled just before game time with flulike symptoms. Cruz had an infield single in the eighth as a pinch-hitter. … The Pirates extended their working agreement Triple-A Indianapolis through 2008. … Going into the game, Torres had allowed five runs in 5 1-3 innings. … Snell has a 10.50 ERA in three career appearances against the Dodgers. … Casey’s injury isn’t believed to be serious, and he could play as early as Wednesday.

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