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Dodgers rally to clinch playoff spot

They are close to NL West title as well after victory over Pirates.


PITTSBURGH — Shoeless and his uniform top unbuttoned, Joe Torre made his way around the Dodgers' clubhouse. General Manager Ned Colletti also went from locker to locker, placing his hand on the shoulders of the players and whispering something in their ears. There were two empty champagne bottles, about 20 paper cups and a few plastic wine glasses on a table in the middle of the room.

Otherwise, there was no evidence that the Dodgers had secured a playoff berth Saturday night with an 8-4 come-from-behind victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.

There was no screaming, no plastic covers on the dressing stalls, no spraying of alcohol. Most of the players were quick to vacate the clubhouse, the exceptions being Brad Ausmus and Mark Loretta, who sat on sofas to watch the end of the Colorado Rockies' loss to the St. Louis Cardinals that reduced the Dodgers' magic number to win the division to two.

Asked if he derived any satisfaction from the moment, Andre Ethier paused for an instant and said, "Ummm . . . yeah."

Randy Wolf helped secure his entry into his first postseason in 11 major league seasons by limiting the Pirates to two runs and four hits over 6 1/3 innings, but didn't sound or look like someone who had fulfilled what he had previously described as a lifelong quest.

"You celebrate when you win the division," he said.

That can happen today if the Dodgers win and the Rockies lose, but Manny Ramirez was looking further ahead.

"We want to go to the World Series," he said, as he and Ronnie Belliard marched out of the clubhouse.

About the only person who looked or sounded affected by the achievement was Torre, but even he showed restraint, agreeing with Colletti that they would mark the event with only a short champagne toast.

"To me a celebration is saying, 'We reached what we want to reach,' " he said. "But we knew we had to recognize getting to the postseason."

Torre, who led the Dodgers to the NL Championship Series in his first season with the club last year, tied Atlanta Manager Bobby Cox's major league managerial record of 14 consecutive postseason appearances.

"He must be doing something right," Russell Martin said.

That was one reason why Martin, a two-time All-Star, said he didn't question how Torre pinch-hit for him in a four-run eighth inning for the Dodgers that allowed them recover from a rare collapse by their bullpen.

With the bases loaded and the Dodgers down, 4-3, Torre sent in Ethier, whom he held out of the lineup.

Ethier drew a walk from Steven Jackson to force in the tying run. Ethier got some help from a former teammate, Pirates third baseman Andy LaRoche, who dropped his popup along the railing of the Pittsburgh dugout.

Martin said he wasn't upset that Torre hit for him.

"You got a guy on the bench who has 30 home runs and 100 RBIs," Martin said. "It just makes sense. The skipper, he makes the calls and he's pretty good at that, so I'm never going to criticize a move that he makes."

Jackson also walked the next batter, Orlando Hudson, to put the Dodgers ahead, and gave up a two-run single to pinch-hitter Jim Thome that extended the margin to 7-4.

Backup catcher Brad Ausmus pinch-ran for Thome and later wondered aloud if he, like Torre, had made history that night.

"When was the last time a 40-year-old pinch-ran for a 39-year-old?" he asked. "That's what I want to know."


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