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Bucs' bullpen comes up short in loss to Dodgers

Rob Biertempfel
| Sunday, April 22, 2007

LOS ANGELES -- The Pirates lost a game they should have won Saturday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, who pulled out a 7-3 victory on Russell Martin's grand slam in the bottom of the 10th inning.

The Pirates might also have lost right fielder Xavier Nady for at least a little while. Nady left the game in the sixth inning with a strained left hamstring, and his status is day to day.

"It's not serious -- I hope," Nady said as he limped out of the clubhouse after the game.

Leading off the 10th, Juan Pierre singled to right off Jonah Bayliss (1-1). With one out, Jeff Kent singled to right, moving Pierre to second.

Damaso Marte relieved Bayliss and walked Gonzalez, loading the bases.

Shawn Chacon took over for Marte.

Martin launched his second home run of the season over the right-field wall, into the Dodgers' bullpen.

"I wouldn't say I was looking dead-red," Martin said. "The best pitch to throw in that situation is a sinker and I got under it a bit. I'm happy we won because we battled our butts off."

Pirates manager Jim Tracy had a different take: "We played a good ballgame -- up to the ninth inning."

In the bottom of the ninth, thanks to three blunders by the Pirates, the Dodgers tied the game, 3-3, without even hitting a ball out of the infield.

Closer Salomon Torres walked leadoff hitter Andre Ethier on a full-count pitch that was way inside. Pinch-hitter Wilson Valdez bunted, but third baseman Jose Bautista made a gusty play to throw Ethier out at second.

Valdez went to second on a wild pitch, then to third when the throw from catcher Ronny Paulino sailed into center field.

Valdez scored on a passed ball. Torres vehemently disputed the call by home plate umpire Joe West, insisting to no avail he tagged Valdez out.

"We had that game in our hands," Paulino said. "When you have a game like that slip out of your hands, you can't think about anything else except, 'What can I do to get better?' "

The miscues in the ninth prevented Pirates starter Ian Snell from picking up his second victory of the year. Snell scattered five hits and kept the Dodgers off balance for seven innings.

"At this point ... it's frustrating right now," Snell said quietly. "I thought I pitched good: two runs, seven innings, still had the lead ..."

Both teams scored a run in the first, which continued a couple of trends. The Pirates have scored nine first-inning runs over their past seven games, but the starters have allowed 10 runs out of the gate in the past four games.

The Pirates took a 3-1 lead in the third inning against Dodgers right-hander Brad Penny (3-1).

Coming into the game, Penny had walked just eight batters in 20 1/3 innings. But he walked three and threw a wild pitch in the third inning and it added up to two runs for the Pirates.

Snell led off with a walk. With one out, Jack Wilson singled to right field. Freddy Sanchez hit a hard bouncer down the first base line, which advanced both runners.

With two outs and first base open, Penny pitched around Jason Bay. That walk loaded the bases.

Adam LaRoche drew his 10th walk of the season -- he's tied with Bay for the team lead -- which scored Snell.

Dodgers manager Grady Little went out to chat with Penny. Whatever was said must have put Little in a foul mood, because he muttered something to West and was ejected.

Penny was shaken up, too. His next pitch bounced wildly past catcher Russell Martin and Wilson scored.

Luis Gonzalez led off the sixth with a double to right. He later scored on Ethier's sacrifice fly to center. The damage could have been worse. Ethier's fly was a fast-sinking blooper, but Chris Duffy made a fine diving catch.

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