Dodgers stun Pirates on Ethier’s homer in 13th

Andre Ethier still has a hard time believing his uncanny ability to generate game-winning hits.

Ethier hit a two-run homer in the 13th inning – his major league-leading sixth walkoff hit of the season – giving the Los Angeles Dodgers a 5-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night.

“You pinch yourself,” he said. “If there’s a heartbeat left, we can come back and try to win it. I was just looking for a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on something.”

Four of Ethier’s game-ending hits have been home runs, the latest gave the Dodgers their 37th comeback win of the season and earned him a curtain call. The NL West leaders moved five games ahead of Colorado, which lost 10-2 at San Francisco, and had their magic number to clinch a playoff berth reduced to 10.

“As Yogi would say, ‘It’s deja vu all over again,”‘ Dodgers manager Joe Torre said, quoting former New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra. “You’ve seen him do it, you want to visualize it, and when he does it, it’s just surreal.”

Ethier sent the first pitch from Phil Dumatrait (0-1) into the right field pavilion with one out for his 30th homer and 97th and 98th RBIs of the season. Rafael Furcal opened the inning with a line drive single that struck Chris Bootcheck on the right leg and ricocheted between first and second base.

“I went with a two-seamer in, and I went and looked at the video and it was just above the knees and a little bit off the plate,” Dumatrait said. “I made my pitch and he just kind of dropped the head of the bat on it and put a good swing on it, and unfortunately it went out of the park. It’s frustrating. He just beat me on that one pitch.”

The Pirates had taken a 4-3 lead in the top of the inning on Ryan Doumit‘s RBI single. The go-ahead run was unearned because of a throwing error by third baseman Casey Blake on Andrew McCutchen‘s routine grounder. Andy LaRoche sacrificed McCutchen to second before Garrett Jones was intentionally walked. Doumit faced an 0-1 count from Ronald Belisario (4-3) before he singled to left, scoring McCutchen.

“It was a great game,” Pirates manager John Russell said. “We thought we had it won twice. Unfortunately, they’re a great team and they’ve had a lot of comeback wins this year.”

The Dodgers wasted a golden opportunity in the 12th after pinch-hitter Juan Pierre tripled with one out off Steven Jackson. The Pirates pulled the infield in and Orlando Hudson grounded out to second before pinch-hitter James Loney grounded out to first.

Los Angeles tied the game 3-3 in the ninth on Matt Kemp‘s RBI single off Matt Capps, whose blown save was his fifth in 30 chances.

“If I get that last pitch down to Kemp, he swings over it and it’s a ground ball. But I missed up in the zone and you can’t afford to do that,” Capps said. “We should have won that game in the ninth. The guys played hard and busted their butts all night to put us in that situation, and it didn’t work out.”

Ethier started the rally with a one-out double to right. Manny Ramirez popped to first before Kemp lined his opposite field hit to right on a 2-1 pitch. He took second on the throw home and Blake reached on a walk before pinch-hitter Jim Thome grounded to short to end the inning.

“They never quit,” Torre said. “This has been a team effort all year and we have 16 left. Hopefully it just stays this way all the way to the end.”

The Pirates scored three runs in the second. Steve Pearce hit his fourth homer just over the wall in left, a two-run shot that scored Lastings Milledge, who walked. Zach Duke‘s RBI single to center with two outs scored Ronny Cedeno, who doubled.

The Dodgers got two runs back in the fifth on Blake’s RBI triple and Mark Loretta‘s sacrifice fly.

Duke allowed two runs and four hits in 7 1-3 innings, tied his season high with seven strikeouts and walked none. The All-Star left-hander had allowed a total of 13 runs in the first inning of his last three starts, but he retired the first 10 batters to start the game.

Los Angeles starter Randy Wolf gave up three runs and five hits in seven innings, struck out five and walked two after missing his start last Friday at San Francisco with a hyperextended left elbow. Wolf said afterward that his arm is feeling good.


Ethier is the first Dodger with a 30-homer season since Adrian Beltre hit 48 in 2004. … The Dodgers improved to 27-19 in one-run games, including 20-7 at home. … The Dodgers announced their preliminary 2010 schedule, with the New York Yankees visiting for the first time since 2004, from June 25-27. … Wolf has pitched 197 1-3 innings this season, his most since 2003, when he tossed 200 for Philadelphia.