Hansen's lack of control in 12th costly

Dodgers 4 Pirates 3

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The Los Angeles Dodgers' 4-3, 12-inning win against the Pirates yesterday was a form of a walk-off victory.

On this long, sunny afternoon at PNC Park, Pirates pitchers walked 11 batters -- albeit four of them intentionally -- and three of the batters who were walked unintentionally scored.

Including one of those in the 12th.

"The walks didn't help us," manager John Russell conceded. "But we battled. We had the winning run on second base [in the bottom of the 12th]. You can't say enough about how these guys continue to fight. You'd just like to be on the other side of it."

  • Game: Houston Astros vs. Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park.
  • TV, radio: FSN Pittsburgh, WPGB-FM (104.7).
  • Pitching: LHP Randy Wolf (4-2, 4.26) vs. RHP Ian Snell (6-11, 5.69).
  • Key matchup: Snell vs. Ty Wigginton, who lifetime is 4 for 8 with three doubles against the right-hander. Wigginton returned to the lineup Wednesday after being sidelined since Sept. 6 with a strained groin.
  • Of note: The Astros are 8-2 in Wolf's 10 starts since he was acquired from San Diego just after the All-Star break.

Maybe in a couple of seasons. For now, this is what it is.

Craig Hansen, the hard-throwing right-hander acquired July 31 from Boston in the Jason Bay trade, was in immediate trouble in the 12th. He walked leadoff batter Russell Martin on four pitches, and his first three pitches to Andre Ethier missed the strike zone.

What was left of a gathering of 12,709 spectators grew restless.

Hansen, who has walked 43 in 46 1/3 innings this season, regrouped momentarily and struck out Ethier as Martin stole second. Hansen then walked Manny Ramirez intentionally before walking Casey Blake on a 3-2 pitch.

T.J. Beam relieved and yielded a run-scoring single to James Loney before ending the inning.

Hansen's lack of control is going to be an area of concern. Russell has discussed the need to harness Hansen's power so that he can be initially a dominant setup pitcher before possibly becoming a closer.

But how to harness Hansen?

"A lot of it is to get him mechanically [sound enough] to repeat pitches," Russell said. "He's the type of guy that, if he can harness what he has, it's electric. He throws his fastball [with a velocity] in the mid-90s and he has a slider that drops off the table."

In the bottom of the 12th, Nyjer Morgan drew a one-out walk, reaching base for the fourth time in the game. He stole second, then moved to third when Luis Cruz bounced a shot off relief pitcher Jonathan Broxton's left arm and was thrown out at first.

The Dodgers walked Nate McLouth intentionally. McLouth stole second, setting up what could have been a bona fide walk-off win, but Jason Michaels popped out to short right field, enabling the Dodgers to win three of four in this series and head home to try to clinch the National League West by early next week.

The Pirates almost had a victory in the 10th after Morgan was hit by a pitch from Chan Ho Park to start the inning.

Cruz sacrificed Morgan to second. McLouth drew an intentional walk. Michaels bounced to Park, who threw to second base -- only to find nobody there. His throw almost zipped into center field, which would have enabled Morgan to jog home.

Second baseman Blake Dewitt, however, made a diving stop. The ball rolled from his glove for an instant, and Morgan, who had rounded third, broke for home plate. Martin made a great stop of Dewitt's short-hop throw to the plate and made the tag as Morgan barreled into him.

"I got him good," Morgan said, "but not good enough."

That left runners on first and second with two outs, but Adam LaRoche flied to left to end the threat.

Russell wasn't thrilled by Morgan's dash to the plate.

"You'd rather not have him go," Russell said. "You'd have the bases loaded and one out. But Nyjer's going to look for things to take advantage of. He's going to do a lot of great things for us. You don't want to take away his aggressiveness, and hindsight is 20-20. But, in the future, you'd like him to be a little more under control with less than two outs."

Morgan said he and third base coach Tony Beasley thought Park's throw had gone into short center field.

"He told me to go," Morgan said.

Beasley absolved Morgan of blame.

"It was not his fault," Beasley said. "I have to do a better job of getting up the line to control him. That play might have cost us the ball game, but it's not his fault."

Paul Maholm turned in another good start, allowing three hits and three runs in seven innings.

The left-hander has had 10 starts this season in which he has allowed three earned runs or fewer that ended in no-decisions. In nine of those, he pitched at least six innings. He went 5 1/3 in the other way back on April 11.

First Published September 19, 2008 4:00 AM


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