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Goose Bumps to L.A. Lumps

Pitching falls apart as Dodgers follow up amazing comeback victory by slipping to second place with a 10-6 loss to Pirates.

September 20, 2006|Steve Springer | Times Staff Writer

So much for the momentum of euphoric wins and devastating losses.

The season that seemed to turn in the Dodgers' favor in such dramatic fashion Monday night turned back in the San Diego Padres' direction Tuesday night.

The cheers that had filled Dodger Stadium on Monday turned to boos Tuesday.

And the crucial home run balls that had soared off Dodgers bats Monday were flying off Pittsburgh Pirates bats Tuesday.

After hitting four consecutive home runs in the ninth and one in the 10th to beat the Padres and move back into first place in the National League West on Monday, the Dodgers were beaten by the Pirates on Tuesday, 10-6, with Pittsburgh hitting two home runs, one a grand slam, and piling up 11 hits.

The Padres, shaking off the effects of their monumental collapse, beat the Arizona Diamondbacks, 5-2, to move back on top of the division by half a game.

And there was more bad news for the Dodgers. With the Philadelphia Phillies also winning, the Dodgers are only one game ahead of them in the wild-card race.

The Dodgers fell behind, 6-1, rallied with five runs in the seventh and eighth, but fell short because the Pirates scored four in the eighth, all four charged to Dodgers reliever Brett Tomko.

"We've got to be able to stop the bleeding later in games," Manager Grady Little said. "We've got to be better than that."

And to think it had all started so magically again Tuesday for the Dodgers. It was as if Monday had never ended other than the fact the opposition had changed.

Rafael Furcal hit the first pitch thrown to a Dodger into the right-field seats, giving his club six home runs in 10 at-bats. It was Furcal's sixth leadoff home run and the 18th of his career.

It was also his 15th homer this season, tying his career high

The Pirates tied the score in the second inning on a Xavier Nady single, a walk to Ronny Paulino and an RBI single to center by Jose Bautista.

In the fourth, it was the Pirates who reached the seats, Nady drilling a 2-and-0 fastball from Hong Chih-Kuo into the left-center field bleachers for his 17th home run of the year.

Kuo was fooling some of the hitters some of the time. In 5 1/3 innings, he struck out a career-high eight, walking two, one intentionally. But he wasn't fooling everybody. Kuo gave up five runs and six hits.

"I give too many balls right down the middle," he said.

And by the middle of the sixth inning he was gone, leaving behind three Pirates baserunners who would soon come home to assure Kuo of his fifth loss in six decisions.

Kuo's sixth-inning troubles began with a single to left by Freddy Sanchez. Jason Bay followed with a broken-bat blooper that eluded first baseman Nomar Garciaparra, dropping in for a double. Kuo's evening ended with a subsequent intentional walk to Nady.

But, for the Pirates, the evening was just beginning.

After reliever Elmer Dessens struck out Paulino, Bautista hit a towering fly ball on a 2-and-0 pitch that sailed down the left-field line, left fielder Marlon Anderson in furious pursuit. Although the ball avoided the foul pole, cleared the left-field barrier in fair territory and landed several rows back, Anderson never gave up, soaring over the barrier himself and landing among the fans, his glove empty.

The ball was several rows back in the hands of a fan, giving Bautista his second career grand slam and the Pirates a 6-1 lead.

The Dodgers got two back in the seventh, Furcal tripling home one run and scoring himself on a groundout. It was Furcal's 183rd hit, the most by a first-year Dodger since Johnny Frederick had 206 in 1929.

Anderson, part of Monday night's ninth-inning home-run barrage, hit a three-run shot in the eighth to close within 10-6.

The Dodgers came up in the ninth trailing by four as they had Monday. But this time, they could do no better than two lazy fly balls and a strikeout.

A dizzying season had turned again.

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