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PITTSBURGH 3, DODGERS 1

Dodgers meet with a loss to Pirates

After a long trip into Pittsburgh, caused by the added security for the G-20 summit, they play sluggishly in 3-1 defeat.

September 26, 2009|DYLAN HERNANDEZ

PITTSBURGH — While Randy Wolf told tales of the Dodgers' strange voyage the previous night, a helicopter hovered in the air space near PNC Park. Security boats circled the river behind the stadium.

Armed officers stood guard at almost every downtown street corner. Sirens blared in the distance.

"It's like martial law," Wolf said. "Very apocalyptic."

Then the day really turned bizarre.

The Dodgers lost to a team that had dropped 23 of its previous 26 games on a night when that team was forced to use five pitchers because it didn't have a starter available.

Because of that 3-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, who were in the midst of their worst stretch since 1890 -- 1890! -- the Dodgers were delayed from securing their pass to the postseason by at least a day.

Tonight, the Dodgers will go to PNC Park for the second day in a row needing a win or an Atlanta Braves loss to secure a minimum of the National League wild card.

But, really, what's a day's wait for a group that endured what it did early Friday morning?

That was when the Dodgers had to get from the nation's capital to the host city of the G-20 summit, a journey that included a two-hour stop at Washington Dulles Airport and a bus ride through Pittsburgh that included several literal twists, turns and stops.

"It seemed like we drove around the city for 45 minutes before we even got to the hotel," said Jon Garland, who drew the starting assignment and took the loss in the opening game of the four-game series. "Every bridge, every exit, exit stoplight, there was security."

Said second baseman Orlando Hudson: "If they try to get Obama, they better bring their A-game."

Manager Joe Torre and his players, Garland and Hudson included, said that the all-night trek wasn't an excuse for the way they performed. But Torre acknowledged that this particular trip took its toll on his team, saying, "I think we all felt it today."

Trying to start a double play that he later acknowledged he shouldn't have tried to turn, third baseman Blake DeWitt threw the ball into the outfield in the first inning to put men on first and third. Andrew McCutchen scored on a sacrifice fly by Garrett Jones to put the Pirates ahead, 1-0.

"I rushed it," said DeWitt, who started his third game since his Sept. 6 call-up.

DeWitt doubled in the second inning and scored on a double by Hudson to tie the score, 1-1, but a fielding error by first baseman James Loney resulted in two more unearned runs and a 3-1 deficit for Garland.

Pirates starter Jeff Karstens, who last started on June 5, pitched only three innings, half as many as Garland.

But Karstens, Donnie Veal (who?), Steven Jackson (who?), Jesse Chavez (who?) and closer Matt Capps (OK, we've heard of him) combined to limit the Dodgers to seven hits.

"We were flat," Torre said. "You certainly don't want to take credit away from what they did, but we didn't swing the bats very well."

The Pirates were upset about a story that appeared on dodgers.com last week, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Players passed around a printout of the story, which was about the series between the teams in Los Angeles last week and described how the Dodgers "swept their practice series with the Pirates."

Torre was quoted in the article saying, "It's good practice for us if we continue what we're doing and we get to the postseason, because we'll be going up against the best pitchers."

Karstens wasn't amused.

"I don't want to make a big deal out of it, but you have to show respect to another major league team," he told the Post-Gazette. "We felt like we had something to come out here and prove."

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dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Magic number

4

This is the combination of Dodgers wins and Colorado losses that will clinch the NL West title.

H: Home games left.

R: Road games left.

*--* NL WEST W L Pct. GB H R Dodgers 92 62 597 -- 3 5 Colorado 87 67 565 5.0 5 3 *--*

WHAT'S LEFT

at Pittsburgh (3, Today-Monday)

at San Diego (2, Tuesday-Wednesday)

vs. Colorado (3, Friday-Oct. 4)

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