The Kid and the Old Guy Come Through

It certainly wasn't a wedding at Dodger Stadium Thursday night but their was something old (Olmedo Saenz), something new (Chad Billingsley), something borrowed (Takashi Saito) and 48,567 spots of Blue in the stands when the Dodgers squeezed out a 5-2 win over the Pesky Pirates. With the Padres stopping Arizona, the bouquet is in the air and the Dodgers need only to reach up catch it.

Los Angeles trails the Padres by a half game, although they are a full game ahead in the loss column. In turn, the Dodgers lead Philadelphia by a half game, although they are tied in the loss column.
  N.L. West/Wild Card Standings
              w-l   pct  gb
San Diego    80-72 .526  --
Los Angeles  80-73 .523 0.5
Philadelphia 79-73 .520 1.0
The next three games will see a reverse in the schedule, with the Pirates at San Diego for three while the Dodgers host the Diamondbacks.

Saenz drew the start with Nomar Garciaparra out of the starting lineup to rest his sore left quad and he got the Dodgers off to a good start in the first inning when he lined a shot deep into the left-center field seats with Rafael Furcal on base.

Saenz is 22-for-47 (.486) lifetime against the Pirates with six home runs and was 8-for-14 with two homers and seven RBI during the Dodgers' four-game series at Pittsburgh in mid-April.

"He's a professional player and he's a winner," his former manager Jim Tracy said after the game. "He's at his best in a lesser role, when you don't have to overuse him. He's a damaging player on your bench against left-handed pitching, and his numbers will bear that out.

"It's not a coincidence when you look over the course of this guy's career that the teams he's played for have found themselves in situations like the Dodgers are in -- with a chance to play in the postseason."

Rookie Chad Billingsley (6-4) allowed two runs and six hits over five innings. In his previous start last Saturday, he lasted only one inning and gave up three runs in an 11-2 loss to the Padres.

Billingsley, who gets himself in trouble when he nibbles at the corners and falls behind in the count, attacked the strike zone with a sharp breaking ball and had better command of his fastball and his cutter."

Making only his second major league start, Pirates left-hander Shane Youman (0-2) was charged with three runs, three hits and four walks over before leaving the game with one out in the fifth.

Josh Sharpless took over with runners a the corner and struck out Saenz on a breaking ball but walked Jeff Kent and J.D. Drew to force home Furcal and put the Dodgers ahead 3-2.

In the third inning, the Pirates had tied it at 2-2 on RBI singles by Freddy Sanchez in the third and Youman in the fifth. It was the rookie's second hit of the game and first RBI in the majors.

The Dodgers got a pair of insurance runs in the eighth on Russell Martin's RBI single, followed by a suicide squeeze bunt by Marlon Anderson, the first of his career, that scored Drew.

Although Billingsley became the fourth straight Dodgers starting pitcher who was unable to complete six innings, this time the bullpen turned in a perfect performance.

Entering Thursday's game having given up 26 earned runs over the past nine contests, Joe Beimel, Jonathan Broxton and Takashi Saito, who got three outs for his 20th save in 22 chances, gave the Dodgers four scoreless innings as the club avoided what could have been a devastating loss.

Beimel has been the bright light out of the bullpen and hasn't allowed a run in his last eight games, recording an 0.87 ERA in September.

The left-hander only faced six batters in his two innings of work. Beimel got out of the sixth by picking Jose Bautista off first base.

Broxton allowed the Pirates to put men on the corners with one out before battling out of the eighth inning. Saito struck out the side in the ninth to pick up his 20th save of the year.

Returning from an oblique strain, Billingsley struggled through a 40-pitch, one-inning outing against San Diego. The rookie allowed only two earned runs on six hits in five innings

While some writers portrayed the 5-2 decision as an "ugly victory," in the final weeks of a steamy pennant battle there are no such things, only ugly losses.

Opening the Dodgers final home series of the season tonight and attempting win two in a row since the first week of September, the Dodgers call on Derek Lowe (14-8, 3.69 ERA) to start against the Diamondbacks and right-hander Claudio Vargas (11-9, 4.96).
  Score by innings
Pittsburgh  001 010 000-2
Los Angeles 200 010 02x-5
 
  Dodgers       ab r h bi ave
Furcal, SS       3 1 1 0 .299
Lofton, CF       4 1 1 0 .298
Saenz, 1B        2 1 1 2 .288
 Beimel, P       0 0 0 0 .000
 Garciaparra, PH 1 0 0 0 .299
 Broxton, P      0 0 0 0 .000
 Betemit, 3B     0 0 0 0 .265
Kent, 2B         3 0 1 0 .289
 Repko, PR-LF    0 1 0 0 .248
Drew, RF         2 1 1 1 .278
Martin, C        4 0 1 1 .284
Anderson, LF     2 0 0 1 .291
 Saito, P        0 0 0 0 .000
Lugo, 3B-2B      4 0 0 0 .280
Billingsley, P   1 0 0 0 .087
 Kemp, PH        1 0 0 0 .259
 Loney, 1B       1 0 0 0 .258
    Totals      28 5 6 5 6 8 9  
    Pirates     33 2 9 2

  Error-Anderson.  HR- Saenz (11). RBI- 
Saenz 2 (47), Drew (91), Martin (60), 
Anderson (34). S- Anderson. LOB- Los 
Angeles 6, Pittsburgh 9. DP- (Kent, 
Furcal and Saenz).
 
  Dodgers          in h r-er bb so era
Billingsley (6-4) 5.0 6 2-2 3 4 0 3.34
Beimel            2.0 0 0-0 1 2 0 2.97
Broxton           1.0 2 0-0 0 1 0 2.75
Saito (Sv 20)     1.0 1 0-0 0 3 0 2.22
  WP-Billingsley. T-2-48. Att-48,567.
Dodger Blue Notes-- As expected, the crowd of 48,567 increased the Dodgers home attendance to 3,614,942 - breaking the franchise record with three games to spare. The 1982 club drew 3,608,881. ... Grady Little is five wins away from becoming the fourth Dodgers manager since 1900 to win at least 85 games in his first season at the helm. Charlie Dressen was 97-60 in 1951, Walter Alston 92-62 in 1954 and Tom Lasorda 98-64 in 1977. …Two nights after first base coach Mariano Duncan exchanged heated words with Padres pitcher Jake Peavy following the first inning of Monday's game, Duncan had no plans to apologize. Duncan said he yelled at Peavy because the pitcher had ridiculed Rafael Furcal, who laid down a bunt single to lead off the inning. "I told him he was cocky," Duncan said. "You know what he said to Rafael Furcal? He said, 'Swing the bat, you little' (bleep). And then he shows up Mike Piazza, a future Hall of Famer, when he goes to calm him down ... I don't need to apologize. Who's Jake Peavy?" …Taking into account the Dodgers' plate appearances and their home run total this year, Jim Lackritz, a San Diego State professor, calculated the probability of the Dodgers' hitting four consecutive home runs at 3.3 million to one. The Dodgers have sent the bat that Marlon Anderson used to hit their fourth straight home run in the comeback victory to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, complete with his signature. The Dodgers were the first team to hit back-to-back-to-back-to-back home runs in more than 40 years and accomplished the feat for just the fourth time in Major League history. …Dodgers infielder Ramon Martinez's wife, Neyzza, gave birth to a baby boy on Tuesday. Martinez left the club after Monday's game to return to his home in Toa Alta, Puerto Rico, to be with his wife and is expected back within the next several days. ... Hong-Chih Kuo was honored as the organization's Minor League Pitcher of the Month for August after posting a 2-0 record and a 1.14 ERA in five starts for Triple-A Las Vegas. Third baseman Joshua Bell earned Player of the Month honors after hitting .323 with eight home runs and 29 RBI in 25 games for rookie-level Ogden.

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