Dodgers win again, beat Pirates 4-3 in 12

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PITTSBURGH (AP)—Hitters hear it from the day they graduate from T-Ball: a walk is as good as a hit. For the division-leading Los Angeles Dodgers, their 11 walks were barely good enough for a much-needed win on a day their bats didn’t do much.

James Loney’s line-drive single scored the go-ahead run in the 12th inning after Pittsburgh reliever Craig Hansen walked the bases full, and the Dodgers inched closer to winning the NL West by holding off the Pirates 4-3 Thursday.

The Dodgers left 12 on base despite getting only six hits and withstood two Pittsburgh comebacks for their 15th victory in 18 games. They own a 3 1/2 -game lead over Arizona, which beat San Francisco 3-2. The Dodgers’ magic number for winning the division is seven, in any combination of Los Angeles wins and Arizona losses.

“This time of year—I know, it’s just a ballgame—but when you start taking them off the schedule, they mean so much more, especially in the position we’re in,” manager Joe Torre said. “To win a game like this on the road, with as many opportunities as we didn’t take advantage of, it was terrific.”

Los Angeles hadn’t scored since the seventh until Hansen (1-4)—the seventh of eight Pittsburgh pitchers—walked Russell Martin, Manny Ramirez intentionally and Casey Blake. Loney, a left-handed batter, then drove a one-out single into left off T.J. Beam.

“Two strikes right there, you don’t want to hit a groundball hard at somebody, you want to get it to the outfield deep enough for the runner to score,” Loney said. “Obviously, with two strikes it’s harder.”

Hansen recorded just one out and has walked 20 in 15 2-3 innings since being dealt by Boston to Pittsburgh.

“He couldn’t get into any rhythm with his fastball or his slider,” manager John Russell said. “You wish you could harness that because he throws in the high 90s with a slider that drops off the table.”

Scott Proctor (2-0) won it with a scoreless 11th inning and Jonathan Broxton finished for his 14th save in 16 opportunities, stranding the potential tying run at third after Torre chose to intentionally walk Nate McLouth, who represented the winning run.

“This time of year, every day is like a season, and you need to win every day,” Torre said.

The Dodgers, coming off an ugly 15-8 loss Wednesday night in which they got 18 hits but still lost by seven runs, took a 2-1 lead in the fourth on a walk, Matt Kemp’s two-out double—he has six hits in two games—and Blake DeWitt’s two-run single to center.

Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw was lifted after allowing one run and two hits over five innings, but former closer Takashi Saito couldn’t hold the lead in his second appearance since missing 53 games with an injured right elbow. Former Dodgers infielder Andy LaRoche’s RBI single tied it at 2.

The Dodgers, who took three of four in the series and are 23-7 in PNC Park, retook the lead against Paul Maholm in the seventh on three walks and Andre Ethier’s run-scoring infield single. Ramirez flew out to left with two outs and the bases loaded.

“With as many chances we had that we let get away from us, this was a gift,” Torre said.

Maholm, the Pirates’ most reliable starter, limited the Dodgers to three hits over seven innings but was hurt by wildness, walking six. All but one Dodgers run was scored by a runner who walked.

“I had no clue how many I walked,” Maholm said. “That’s a tough game to lose. They’re a good team, and we were that close.”

Pittsburgh tied it again when Nyjer Morgan singled with two out in the seventh, stole second and scored on fellow rookie Luis Cruz’s single against Cory Wade. Wade’s streak of facing 25 consecutive batters without allowing a hit ended earlier in the inning with pinch-hitter Doug Mientkiewicz’s single, but Mientkiewicz was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double.

In the 10th, Morgan gambled but failed to score from second on an unusual play in which Park threw to an uncovered second base on a one-out ball back to the mound and two runners on. Second baseman DeWitt caught the ball about 10 feet behind the bag and threw to the plate for the out.

Los Angeles is 5-10 in extra innings and Pittsburgh—despite being 25 games under .500—is 12-5, with two losses in its last three.

“We didn’t play that great and managed to win that game,” Broxton said. “That’s big.”

Notes

Maholm gave up more than two earned runs for only the second time in eight starts. … The Pirates (64-89) are one loss away from a fourth consecutive season with 90 or more losses and their sixth since 2000. … Los Angeles went 7-3 on a road trip to Colorado and Pittsburgh, following each loss with a victory.

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