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Dodgers catch their breath to down Pirates in finale

PITTSBURGH -- The heat was on for the Los Angeles Dodgers in more ways than one Monday afternoon, and they overcame it all.

After a rocky start, Scott Kazmir got the mound maintenance he needed from the grounds crew and turned around his day.

After facing an early four-run deficit against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Dodgers' offense found a way to rally for the runs it needed.

After a long day in the humidity, Justin Turner had to bow out of the bottom of the ninth inning with leg cramps.

Then with the final outs in sight, closer Kenley Jansen found himself borderline hyperventilating in the stifling afternoon sun (the AccuWeather RealFeel temperature reached 94), not because he was in the midst of a four-out save but because the elements were as rough as they have been all season.

It all happened with a three-game losing streak looming over their heads.

Put aside all of that -- Kazmir's turnaround, potentially getting swept and the physical toll -- and the most important moment of Monday's 5-4 victory was a simple mound visit from catcher A.J. Ellis to Jansen.

"It was a hot day and tough warming up, coming in, cooling off and going back out there," Ellis said of Jansen's process from getting ready to enter the game, coming in during the eighth inning and then returning for the ninth. To top it all off, Jansen was actually on deck to bat for himself in the ninth inning, before a Howie Kendrick groundout ended a late Dodgers scoring threat.

"I think for a lot of us it was our first game in this type of heat, and it's a different type of humidity and how our bodies reacted to that. I was just trying to give Kenley some time."

To buy some more time, Jansen also threw over to first base after he walked John Jaso with two outs in the ninth inning. He ended the game by getting Jordy Mercer to fly out to right field.

"It was good to see after we spotted them four in the first, Kaz goes out there and throws up four zeroes," manager Dave Roberts said. "We responded, put up a crooked number and figured out how to win a baseball game. It's something that we saw this series, and there were some good at-bats. I liked the way we didn't quit."

With the three-game losing streak at Pittsburgh behind them, now the Dodgers have something to work on as they head to Milwaukee. Then again, they were on a six-game win streak before arriving in Pittsburgh.

The Dodgers lost a Kenta Maeda start on Saturday, a Clayton Kershaw outing on Sunday, and had Kazmir not asked for a hole in front of the pitching rubber to be fixed, that short flight to Milwaukee might have felt a little longer.

"It just felt like for me, once I noticed it, I'm trying to drive down the slope and it felt like, more or less, I was going toward the upper deck, as opposed to going downhill," Kazmir said. "Once we cleaned that up, I felt a lot more comfortable. It might have been in my head, who knows, but it was good enough for me."

Sometimes it is the little things that can make a difference, and both Ellis and Kazmir figured out how to play some subtleties to an advantage.

Now comes a series in Milwaukee brimming with intrigue. Not only will rookie Julio Urias start in Tuesday's series opener, it appears as if Brock Stewart will make his major league debut Wednesday after starting the season at Single-A Rancho Cucamonga.

Stewart posted on his Twitter account that he just received his dream call.

A little offense in Milwaukee -- like the four runs the Dodgers posted in the fifth inning Monday -- would go a long way. The Dodgers banged out four hits in the fifth and took advantage of an error that allowed Yasiel Puig to advance to third base. Puig scored what would be the game-winning run on an infield single from Ellis to deep shortstop.

Once again, subtle but key.

Ellis pulled off the final under-the-radar gem when he turned a question about his infield hit into a compliment about the bullpen, which gave up just one hit over four scoreless innings.

"That offense over there was so good, but at the same time our bullpen does a great job as well," Ellis said. "Those guys stepped up, from Louis Coleman to Joe Blanton, J.P Howell with the big strikeout and then [Pedro] Baez was just filthy today for his two batters. And then Kenley finished the job."

Jansen registered his 22nd save and his seventh consecutive scoreless outing since a blown save at San Francisco on June 11. Jansen has given up just one hit and one walk in that seven-game scoreless stretch.

"This team is tough, so to me, I just wanted the ball, and especially with having a three-game losing streak," Jansen said. "[Roberts] knows I'm going to ask for five or four [outs] just to pick up my teammates. I haven't been throwing a lot of innings lately, so I just wanted to go out there and help them out. That's why I did it."

And it's what finally allowed him to take a deep breath.