PITTSBURGH — The Dodgers apparently have found the answer to their problems: the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Dodgers received another confidence boost Saturday night from the Pirates, rallying for their second victory in as many games, 4-3, before 22,267 at PNC Park.
"If we're going to be a very successful club, that's the way we'll do it," said Manager Jim Tracy, whose team took the first two games of the three-game series. "I've just really liked the way we've played the last couple of days."
The Dodgers overcame a 3-0 deficit a night after stunning the Pirates with six hits and five runs in the ninth inning of a 5-2 victory, capping Saturday's comeback on Shawn Green's go-ahead home run in the eighth against left-hander Scott Sauerbeck (0-2). Green's two-out, solo blast to right ended a stretch of 59 at-bats without a homer, breaking a 3-3 tie and setting the stage for Eric Gagne to finish off the Pirates in the ninth.
The dominant closer got off to an uncharacteristic start, giving up consecutive singles to Aramis Ramirez and Matt Stairs. But Gagne quickly got into a familiar groove and retired the next three batters, including two on strikeouts, to remain perfect in seven save chances. He has thrown 14 scoreless innings.
Setup man Paul Quantrill cruised through another one-inning outing in relief of starter Hideo Nomo (3-3), who was solid for seven innings. The right-hander, who gave up five hits and three runs, worked efficiently in a 94-pitch, 63-strike start.
"Just being pitch efficient," Nomo said through an interpreter. "At the same time, I did give up three runs to fall behind. But like in the last game, we came from behind and won."
Tracy continued the process of re-embracing Adrian Beltre, praising the young third baseman after Beltre delivered a clutch two-out, two-run single in the sixth to tie the score and was sharp in the field.
"The last couple of nights, this young man has played the game the way I know, for a fact, he's capable of playing," Tracy said of Beltre, who suffered a bruised left elbow after being hit with a pitch in the ninth.
"He's just been fantastic the last couple of nights -- offensively and defensively."
After dropping two of three against the Cincinnati Reds, the Dodgers improved to 3-2 on the six-game trip. They go for the sweep today.
"The last two games have been huge," said Todd Hundley, who started at catcher with Paul Lo Duca getting a day off.
"We know what we're capable of offensively, it's just a matter of doing it; getting on track and get rolling."
The Pirates took a three-run lead on Jack Wilson's two-run triple in the third and Stairs' RBI single in the fourth. The Dodgers got an RBI groundout from Hundley in the fifth and Beltre's second single tied the score in the sixth.
Green was hitless with four strikeouts in seven career at-bats against Sauerbeck. This time, he homered on a 2-and-1 breaking ball.
"It has been a real long stretch, and it's something that I've obviously been through before, for even longer stretches," Green said.
"I obviously start trying to lift the ball when I go through those stretches, so this year I was trying a little bit more not to think about it. That's why things haven't gotten as bad as they did last year."
It seems as though Beltre has had many bad years in the first 20 games. Just when things appeared to be turning for the better for Beltre, Julian Tavarez hit him with a pitch.
"It feels bad," said Beltre, whose elbow was wrapped. "It got me right on top. It'll be tough to play tomorrow, especially with a day game.
"I'm going to ice it at the hotel to try to keep the swelling down. We'll see."