Dodgers 1, Pirates 3

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dd88
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The G-20 Summit concluded here Friday with no serious incidents, unless you consider the first-place Dodgers losing to the last-place Pirates serious.

The Dodgers didn't, even though they botched a chance to clinch a postseason berth by committing two errors that led to all of Pittsburgh's runs in a 3-1 loss to a team that had lost its previous six games and 23 of the past 26.

"We made too many mistakes," center fielder Matt Kemp said. "We didn't do anything right. We can redeem ourselves tomorrow."

In fact, the Dodgers could clinch before taking the field Saturday, as the Braves play a day game with Washington, and an Atlanta loss will assure the Dodgers a third playoff appearance in the past four years for the first time since 1963-66. The Dodgers' magic number to clinch their second consecutive National League West title is still four (combination of Dodgers wins and Rockies losses).

The Dodgers refused to blame this loss on the travel hassles they encountered on the charter trip here from Washington after Thursday night's 7-6 win over the Nationals.

First, the club was detained at Dulles International Airport in Washington for two hours while every bag was addressed by bomb-sniffing dogs. Then upon landing in Pittsburgh, the club bused into the city, only for the downtown area to be sealed off with every off-ramp closed. An unsuspecting bus driver took 45 minutes to navigate through the gauntlet of security checkpoints before reaching the team hotel around 3:30 a.m. ET.

And the team hotel was teeming with international security, as it served as the headquarters for the delegations from France, Austria and Turkey.

"It looked like we were flat," manager Joe Torre said. "It could be [the travel], but that's the nature of what we do. You start using that as an excuse, you're in the wrong business. I thought we were flat today, but we'll see tomorrow."

All this because President Obama picked Pittsburgh to host the meeting of economic heads of state. In the process, the place was turned into an occupied territory, with downtown streets closed to traffic and every corner manned by armed National Guard or a co-op national police force recruited from Tucson to Miami to Milwaukee to Alabama.

"It was unbelievable," second baseman Orlando Hudson said of the show of force. "They try to get Obama, they better bring their 'A' game."

Most of the Dodgers, though, missed the law enforcement presence, as well as the occasional protester.

"I didn't get out of bed until 2," said Jon Garland, the hard-luck losing pitcher.

He went six innings without allowing an earned run, striking out six with one walk. But a first-inning throwing error by Blake DeWitt led to one unearned run and a third-inning fielding error by James Loney led to two more unearned runs as Garland suffered his first loss as a Dodger after three wins.

"We just didn't play right," said shortstop Rafael Furcal.

All the Dodgers could do for offense was string back-to-back two-out doubles by DeWitt and Hudson in the second inning, the fewest runs the Dodgers have scored since a Sept. 2 shutout loss to the Padres.

"Our offense was awful tonight," right fielder Andre Ethier said. "You can say we beat ourselves. It's unacceptable, but it is what it is."

Torre was more disappointed with the defense. After Andrew McCutchen's first-inning leadoff infield single, former Dodger Andy LaRoche hit a slow bouncer that DeWitt rushed to second hoping for a double play instead of getting the sure out at first. Instead, he threw the ball into right field and Garrett Jones cashed in the error with a sacrifice fly.

Loney's error was more costly. After back-to-back one-out singles by LaRoche and Jones, Ryan Doumit sent a possible double-play ball to Loney, but it hit the thumb of his throwing hand instead of his glove to load the bases. Lastings Milledge struck out, but Brandon Moss dropped a bloop single in front of Manny Ramirez in left for a two-run single.

"It's certainly something unexpected and you can't expect good things to happen when you don't catch the ball," Torre said. "Give the opponent extra outs, bad things will happen."

The Pirates held the Dodgers to one run on seven hits, even though no pitcher went more than three innings, by design. Donald Veal picked up his first Major League win with two innings of relief. Ethier, Ramirez, Kemp and Loney went a combined 1-for-16.

"We weren't flat, it wasn't the travel, none of that," said Hudson. "They just beat us. Just because they're so many games back doesn't mean they'll roll over."

Ramirez is 2-for-17 in his past six games and is hitting .275 since returning from a 50-game suspension for violating the Major League Baseball drug policy. He was hitting .348 at the time of his suspension.

"It's big not only for the fact that we got the win, but we never want to see anybody celebrate on your field," said Pirates starter Jeff Karstens. "For us to come out and play the way we did, especially after they made some comments in L.A. about playing us, we felt like we had something to come out here and prove."


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