Dodgers beat Pirates for 15th time in 17 games

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Next time, Jeff Weaver prefers to finish what he starts. Especially when the start is as good as this one was.

Weaver limited Pittsburgh to five hits and a run over eight innings and then watched nervously as the Los Angeles Dodgers' bullpen threatened to give away a five-run lead in the ninth inning of a 6-4 victory Sunday over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

"We made it a lot more interesting than it needed to be," manager Jim Tracy said.

With Hee-Seop Choi contributing a two-run single to a six-run third against surprise rookie starter Ian Snell (0-2), the Dodgers won two of three in Pittsburgh -- ending a streak of four consecutive series in which they lost the final two games.

Still, they came close to doing it again.

Yhency Brazoban, the rookie closer pitching in a non-save situation, gave up three runs before Steve Schmoll struck out Jack Wilson with runners on second and third to end the game. Schmoll got his third career save and second of the series.

Brazoban allowed four consecutive batters to reach base, with Rob Mackowiak and Daryle Ward driving in runs with singles and Jose Castillo hitting an RBI double. Tracy wanted to use Brazoban because he hadn't pitched since Tuesday.

"I felt fine," Weaver said. "It was good opportunity for Brazo to get some work in, but I guess he learned from that and the next time I'll go out there in the ninth and see what happens. ... It's a different mentality out there with a five-run lead instead of a save situation."

Tracy defended bringing in Brazoban, saying he didn't want him to go a week without pitching if he is needed in a save situation Tuesday against the Phillies. Brazoban has 21 saves.

"You've got a day off tomorrow -- should you not give him an inning of work?" Tracy said.

Even with Olmedo Saenz sitting out after driving in nine runs in the first two games, the Dodgers won for the eighth time in nine games at PNC Park and for the 15th time in their last 17 against the Pirates.

"It took us until the ninth to get anything going," the Pirates' Freddy Sanchez said. "But we never gave up."

Weaver (10-8) retired the first 11 batters he faced and permitted only two singles until the Pirates scored in the seventh on Ward's two-out single and Ryan Doumit's double.

Weaver, 3-0 in his last five starts, struck out four and walked none and started the Dodgers' scoring with a single up the middle against Snell (0-2).

Snell, pitching because scheduled starter Kip Wells has a broken fingernail on his right hand, never retired another batter. Cesar Izturis, Oscar Robles and Milton Bradley singled to make it 1-0. Jeff Kent walked to drive in another run, and Ricky Ledee and Choi each singled before Snell was lifted after giving up six runs and seven hits.

Snell came to the majors with a 56-18 record in six minor-league seasons and was considered by some in the Pirates organization to be a prospect comparable to Zach Duke (5-0). But Snell has been roughed up in his three starts, one late last season, for 28 hits and 19 runs in 12 innings for a 14.25 ERA.

"Like I told him on the mound, there's better days ahead," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "He's a tough kid. ... But I could see the pain on his face. When you hear those boos, it's tough on a young pitcher."

The Pirates had two scary moments. Center fielder Tike Redman
and right fielder Rob Mackowiak bumped on Kent's fly ball in the seventh. Redman tumbled to the warning track after making the catch but was not hurt.

An inning later, Wilson leaped onto the rolled-up tarp that covers the infield during rain delays and vaulted several rows into the stands trying unsuccessfully to catch Jose Valentin's pop-up.

"We've told them that with effort, there is no negotiation," McClendon said. "We've got a lot of young guys and we're going to keep running them out there and let them play. There were some good signs, and we put ourselves in a position to fight back and win the game."

The six-run inning was the fifth inning of four or more runs against the Pirates during a 2-6 homestand in which Padres and Dodgers combined for 53 runs. There were two five-run innings.

Game notes
Pittsburgh has lost 34 of 51. ... The Dodgers had lost eight of 12 entering the series. ... Weaver is 4-0 with a 2.08 ERA in five career starts against Pittsburgh. ... Pirates center fielder Chris Duffy, 13-for-24 in August, didn't start following a four-hit game Saturday. GM Dave Littlefield said Duffy had tightness in a hamstring, and McClendon said he had cramping. ... Snell left without talking to reporters.