McLouth stuns Saito, Dodgers with two-out, three-run HR in ninth

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Nate McLouth had one more chance to extend his hitting streak to 13 games, and he did it against one of baseball's top closers.

McLouth hit a three-run homer off All-Star Takashi Saito with two outs in the ninth inning, and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the stunned Los Angeles Dodgers 6-4 Monday night for their fourth straight victory.

"It doesn't matter how we won the game. It just happened to be that way tonight," McLouth said. "We're not going to win on a lot of three-run home runs, but it's a great way to kick off a road trip. The first game of a West Coast swing is always tough."

Saito (1-1) was trying to save the win for countryman Hiroki Kuroda, who made his Dodger Stadium debut. But Saito gave up a one-out single to Jose Bautista and a two-out single to pinch-hitter Adam LaRoche before McLouth drove a 1-0 pitch deep into the right-field pavilion for his second homer this season.

Saito had four blown saves last season in 43 opportunities, and his 1.40 ERA was the second-lowest in the majors among pitchers with at least 50 innings.

"I'm sorry that I didn't do my job. It was my responsibility to close it," Saito said through a translator.

McLouth is one of three players to hit safely in each of his team's first 13 games this year, along with Kansas City's Billy Butler and the Dodgers' James Loney. The Pirates' center fielder and leadoff hitter is batting .383 with two homers and 14 RBIs. His longest hitting streak last season was 11 games.

"I did a lot of work in spring training and I've been able to carry that into the season," McLouth said. "It's nice to get off to a good start. You kind of like to show them that they made the right decision by naming me a starter. You're not going to get a hit in every game, but you try to widen it as long as you can."

Loney extended his streak with a game-tying RBI single in the sixth. It's the Dodgers' third-longest to open a season since the team moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958. Steve Garvey hit in 21 straight in 1978, one year after Ron Cey opened the season with a 17-game run.

Bautista hit a two-run homer for the Pirates. Tyler Yates (2-0) pitched a scoreless eighth for the win and Matt Capps worked a perfect ninth for his fourth save.

Pirates starter Zach Duke gave up four runs and eight hits over six innings, with two walks and no strikeouts. In his five career starts against the Dodgers, the left-hander is 1-3 and has allowed 24 earned runs in 29 2/3 innings.

Kuroda allowed three runs and seven hits over six innings with two strikeouts and no walks. The 33-year-old right-hander signed with the Dodgers in December after 11 seasons with Hiroshima in the Japanese Central League.

The Pirates took a 3-2 lead in the sixth when Jason Bay singled and came all the way around on Xavier Nady's double off the right-field fence to give Pittsburgh a 3-2 lead.

But the Dodgers pulled ahead with two runs in the bottom half. Loney hit an RBI single after a leadoff double by Jeff Kent, whose 541st career two-base hit tied Rogers Hornsby for 23rd place in that department. Two outs later, rookie Blake DeWitt lined a single off the glove of first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz to score Loney with the go-ahead run.

Andruw Jones drove in the Dodgers' first run with a second-inning groundout after Russell Martin reached on an infield hit, then advanced to third on a balk and a passed ball by Ryan Doumit. It was only the second RBI this season for Jones, who signed a two-year, $36.2 million free-agent contract on Feb. 28 and is 5-for-44 on the season.

"We've only got a small sampling, even though it's a hell of a dry spell for him, and I know he's fighting it," manager Joe Torre said. "The thing about Andruw is the fact that you signed him, and you signed him for a reason. I just can't see how benching him solves the problem, because you're never going to get what he has to offer.

"We're dealing with only about a dozen games, and it's really tough to bury somebody in that period of time," he added. "I still believe that he's got to be the center fielder. The only way he's going to break out of his slump is between the lines."

The slumping slugger got his second extra-base hit as a Dodger in the fifth. Nady misjudged Jones' towering opposite-field drive to right field while attempting a leaping catch at the fence. Jones ended up with a triple and scored the tying run when Kuroda bounced a double over the third base bag for his first major league hit.

Game notes
Former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda and his wife Jo observed their 58th wedding anniversary. ... Duke and Former Dodgers great Fernando Valenzuela are among four pitchers since 1920 who fashioned an ERA under 1.00 through their first six big league starts. Duke's was 0.92 in 2005. Valenzuela's was 0.33 in 1981, the year he won the NL Cy Young Award and was Rookie of the Year.