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L.A. snaps 6-game skid; Pirates lose 4 in a row

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Los Angeles Dodgers usually come out on
the short end in games decided by two runs or less. Not this time.

Antonio Perez drove in the go-ahead run with a bases-loaded
grounder in the sixth inning and the Dodgers rallied to beat the
Pittsburgh Pirates 4-3 on Friday night, snapping their six-game
losing streak.

Nine of the Dodgers' previous 11 defeats had been decided by two
runs or less, and have helped stifle their bid for a playoff berth
with nine games remaining.

"There's still some stuff to play for, you know, pride and
everything," winning rookie pitcher D.J. Houlton said. "I've
never been in a situation like this before. It's tough."

The Pirates lost their fourth in a row and are an NL
Central-worst 62-92.

Houlton (6-9) earned the victory, giving up two runs and four
hits, striking out five and walking none in six innings.

"I just threw the majority of my pitches for strikes, instead
of the last couple times I was out there struggling," he said. "I
was just going after them with all my pitches."

Duaner Sanchez pitched the ninth and converted his seventh
straight save opportunity. He gave up Jason Bay's 31st homer with
one out that made it 4-3.

"Our bullpen did a very nice job following up a fine job by
Houlton," Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said. "We did some things
with two outs and runners in scoring position."

Rookie Paul Maholm (2-1) took the loss, allowing four runs and
seven hits, striking out three and walking four in 5 2-3 innings.

The Dodgers batted around in the sixth, when they scored three
runs to take the lead.

Dioner Navarro doubled, Mike Edwards walked and then Jayson
Werth tied the game 2-2 with a run-scoring single.

Navarro's offense and the way he's handled the pitching staff
behind the plate has impressed Tracy.

"What he's done offensively in the time that he's been here has
gone beyond what our expectations would have been of him coming up
here for the first time," Tracy said. "This is obviously a guy to
start thinking about very seriously."

After the game, Navarro went to the bedside of his son who has
been hospitalized since being born earlier this month.

"For him to come out and catch, concentrate nine innings and
then go out there and actually get a hit, that's really amazing,"
Houlton said. "I really respect the guy for coming out here and
playing like that when he's got everything going on in his life."

Maholm hit Willy Aybar to load the bases with two outs. Perez
grounded to third baseman Rob Mackowiak, who dived for the ball and
it hit off his glove, rolling into foul territory. Edwards scored
for a 3-2 lead.

Jose Mesa replaced Maholm and gave up a bases-loaded walk to
Jeff Kent without throwing a strike, extending the Dodgers' lead to
4-2.

Freddy Sanchez hit a two-run homer into the Dodgers' bullpen in
left field with two outs in the third, putting the Pirates ahead
2-1.

The Dodgers led 1-0 on a run-scoring single by Olmedo Saenz with
two outs in the first.

Game notes
The victory was the Dodgers' 25th in 31 games against
Pittsburgh during Tracy's tenure. They've won 16 of their last 18
against the Pirates. ... Aybar doubled in the first inning, giving
the Dodgers 268 two-base hits this season, second-highest in team
history. The record is 286 in 2002. ... Aybar's double gave him at
least one hit in 12 of his 13 major league starts. ... Kent notched
his team-leading 105th RBI with the bases-loaded walk in the sixth.
He is two short of breaking his own major league record of 107 for
a second baseman age 36 or older, which he set last season with
Houston. ... The Pirates are 7-11 since Pete Mackanin replaced the
fired Lloyd McClendon as interim manager on Sept. 6.