Saenz's HR in 14th Tops Pirates 9-7

Olmedo Saenz slammed a two-run, pinch-hit home run, his first as a Dodger, in the top of the 14th inning to give Los Angeles a sweep of the three game series. The final man out of the bullpen, Brian Falkenborg, shared the hero's role, after the bullpen blew a 7-2 lead with two out and none on in the eighth inning, walking five consecutive batters at one point to help the Pirates score five runs and pull even.

Falkenborg's second scoreless inning ended the 4-hour 10-minute game before a crowd of 16,554. Falkenborg (1-0) earned his first major league victory and the Dodgers swept the three-game series, finishing 5-1 on their first East Coast trip.

Saenz, 33, who came to spring training as a non-roster invitee before making the opening-day roster, came into the game hitting .182 (2-for-11), all as a pinch hitter when was called to to bat for Alex Cora. Jose Hernandez had walked to start the inning and advanced to second on Cesar Izturis' sacrifice bunt.

On a 2-and-0 count, Saenz homered to left-center, handing the Pirates their sixth straight loss.

Shawn Green went 2-for-6. Adrian Beltré went 3-for-6 with an RBI and extended his hitting streak to 13 games. Milton Bradley, who went 4-for-7, hit a solo home run in the eighth to give L.A. what seemed like a comfortable 7-2 lead.

The game was prolonged by a rare, eighth-inning meltdown by a bullpen that had gone almost a week without giving up an earned run. Beginning play Sunday, the Dodger bullpen ranked fourth in the majors with a 2.68 earned-run average and entered the game with a streak of 13.1 innings without allowing an earned run but surrendered five Sunday as all seven relievers made an appearance.

Going into the bottom of the eighth, the Dodgers held a solid 7-2 lead. Manager Jim Tracy pulled starter Odalis Perez after he had thrown 91 pitches in the heat and humidity. Perez, who scattered five hits, and had retired 14 of the last 16 he faced, gave up only two runs and lowered his ERA to 3.63, agreed with the move, saying, "I was done."

Jose Lima, recently removed from the starting rotation, got two quick outs in the eighth. But he gave up consecutive singles, then walked a pair to force in a run. Darren Dreifort walked in another and Tom Martin handed out two free passes to make it five in succession. Duaner Sanchez gave up a dribbler that went for a single and brought home the tying run. The inning finally ended when catcher Paul Lo Duca nailed a runner taking too big a lead off third.

The Dodgers (20-10) ran their winning streak to four and their lead over San Diego and took a two game lead after the Padres lost at Florida. Los Angeles before opening a three-game series with Chicago beginning. The Dodgers will face Kerry Wood, Matt Clement and Carlos Zambrano.

Dodger Blue Notes--Brian Falkenborg pitched in his first major-league late in 1999 for Baltimore. He didn't realize his first major-league win wouldn't come until May 9, 2004. Falkenborg made two appearances for the Orioles in October 1999, pitching three scoreless innings, and figured he would have a shot to make the club the following spring. Instead, he underwent Tommy John surgery that March. He missed all of 2000 and spent most of 2001 trying to regain his form after being released by the Orioles and signing with Seattle. He spent three injury-plagued years with the Mariners' Triple-A Tacoma team and opted for free agency last winter, signing with the Dodgers on Nov. 10. In three appearances this season, spanning 4 innings, he has a 2.08 ERA. ... Adrian Beltré extended his hitting streak to 13 games. Beltré was 12 for 27 on the six-game trip.