PITTSBURGH (AP) -The trade. The
Los Angeles Dodgers
' late-season turnaround started with the trade, and manager
thinks it has made all the difference in a team that spent more than four months struggling to find itself.
No, not that trade.
held Pittsburgh to five singles over seven effective innings to remain unbeaten in his career against the Pirates, and the
Dodgers edged closer to the NL West title with a 6-2 victory Tuesday night.
homered and tripled his first two times up after sitting out an 8-2 win Monday night with lower back stiffness.
had three hits for the second successive night, including an RBI double in a four-run second inning.
Los Angeles won its 14th in 16 games and leads Arizona by 4 1/2 in the NL West with 11 to play, though the Dodgers insist
they're not counting down any magic numbers. The Diamondbacks played later Tuesday at home against San Francisco.
''We're doing, I think, what we need to do - we continue to keep winning and don't worry about what anybody else is doing,''
Lowe said. ''It's hard to get caught if you keep winning. That's our mentality, don't get lazy, don't get complacent and keep
trying to win.''
Getting Ramirez from Boston on July 31 has made a huge difference. He has a .402 average with 14 homers and 44 RBIs in 43
The deal with Cleveland five days before that sent Blake to the Dodgers for two minor leaguers doesn't get mentioned as much,
but the third baseman has 10 homers and 23 RBIs in 48 games.
''When we got
, it sort of became some glue we needed for this ballclub to mesh,'' Torre said. ''Just the way he prepares and goes about
his business. I know you've heard the expression, he's a blue-collar guy who just goes and plays baseball.''
Lowe (14-11) didn't need much run support, though he rarely does against the Pirates - he is 6-0 in six career starts against
them and 5-0 in PNC Park.
The Pirates, down 4-0 in the fourth, scored on consecutive singles by
. Lowe recovered to get
to ground into a double play on a ball that bounced a few feet in front of the plate and retired 11 of his final 12 batters.
Lowe has won his last four starts, allowing two runs and 14 hits in 26 1-3 innings - a 0.68 ERA - and the Dodgers have won
each game by at least four runs. In the last 16 games, Dodgers starting pitchers are 12-1.
''Our staff, on this run we've been on, has been pretty incredible game in and game out, going deep into the game and being
able to use the bullpen in the right way,'' Lowe said.
A questionable call aided the Dodgers' second - Lowe, lumbering down the line, appeared to be out by a step on his sacrifice
bunt. Pirates pitcher
nearly threw it away, but TV replays showed second baseman Sanchez, covering first, scooped up the ball before the runner
arrived. Umpire Tim Timmons called Lowe safe.
''It was a routine play,'' Pirates manager
said. ''You hate to argue a routine play.''
Sanchez told Karstens he came up with the ball, and the pitcher thought Lowe was out by ''a foot and a half.''
''But I threw a sinker (to first), and it came up short,'' Karstens said. ''I have to do a better job.''
The Dodgers already had a run in on Blake's 10th homer - he had 11 with Cleveland - then scored three more times following
the one-out call at first.
hit a sacrifice fly,
singled in a run after sitting out three games and Ramirez doubled in the fourth run.
Blake tripled and scored on
's sacrifice fly an inning later. Blake finished a double short of the cycle, hitting into a force play and grounding out
in his other two at-bats.
''Yeah, it's in the back of your mind,'' Blake said.
With Karstens (2-6) losing his sixth in a row since he pitched 7 2-3 perfect innings against the Diamondbacks on Aug. 6, the
Pirates dropped their eighth in 11 games and 19th in 25 games. They are 13-30 since trading top run-producer
to Boston on July 31, part of the three-team deal that involved Ramirez.
Notes: Los Angeles is 22-6 in Pittsburgh since PNC Park opened in 2001 and has never lost any of its nine series there. The
Dodgers are guaranteed at least a split in this four-game series. The Dodgers are 46-19 against Pittsburgh since 2000. ...
Ramirez, facing the Pirates for the first time since the trade, is 6-for-9. ... Ethier returned after attending the birth
of his first child. ... With a run in and one runner on in the ninth, Torre used closer
to get the final out.