Rightfielder Andre Ethier misplayed Lastings Milledge's two-run single for an error that allowed the winning run to score, and last-place Pittsburgh beat the visiting Dodgers, 6-5, to prevent Los Angeles from clinching the NL West title yesterday.
"You've got to get 27 outs. That's why baseball's a little crazy sometimes," said shortstop Rafael Furcal, who committed one of two Dodgers errors in the ninth.
Los Angeles, already assured a playoff spot, went ahead 5-2 with three runs in the ninth only to let the Pirates stage their best rally of a miserable season; Pittsburgh, four losses from 100, won for only the fifth time in 29 games.
"As many times as you snatch it back from somebody else, you have to understand those things happen," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "It's not easy to take, but that's why you watch every pitch."
The Dodgers went into the game with a magic number of two for clinching the division crown, but it essentially was one because Colorado would lose any tiebreaker with them. After they lost, the Dodgers sat quietly in front of their lockers watching the Cardinals-Rockies game, hoping for a St. Louis victory and a delayed celebration.
"The Dodgers have a great team and they're going to do great things in the postseason," Milledge said. "For us to score four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning against that team and one of the best closers in baseball is quite an accomplishment. It's something we can feel good about, something that can give us a little confidence going into the offseason."
In other games:
* At Denver, second baseman Clint Barmes made a diving catch to start a game-ending double play, preserving the Colorado Rockies' 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. Huston Street earned his first six-out save in 3 years and the Rockies remained 2 1/2 games ahead of surging Atlanta in the NL wild-card race.
One day after St. Louis wrapped up the Central crown, the Rockies received four scoreless innings of work from four relievers to preserve the win for Jorge De La Rosa, who was removed after the fifth.
St. Louis used a patchwork lineup with catcher Yadier Molina (sore knee) and outfielder Matt Holliday (sickness) held out for precautionary reasons. But the Cardinals still have plenty to play for as they eye home-field advantage in the NL playoffs.
De La Rosa (16-9) became just the second lefthander in Cardinals' history to reach 16 wins.
* At Miami, Pat Misch (2-4) pitched an eight-hitter for the first complete game of his career, and the New York Mets spoiled the Florida Marlins' home finale by winning, 4-0. Jeff Francoeur hit his 14th home run with one on and robbed Chris Coghlan of a homer in rightfield.
* At San Francisco, Matt Cain (14-7) pitched eight scoreless innings, Eli Whiteside had a pair of RBI doubles and the Giants beat the Chicago Cubs, 5-1.
* At Houston, Wandy Rodriguez (14-11) pitched six solid innings, Humberto Quintero homered and the Astros beat Cincinnati, 3-2, to snap the Reds' six-game winning streak.
* At Phoenix, Augie Ojeda had three hits and drove in three runs, Chad Tracy hit his second home run in two games and the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the San Diego Padres, 7-4.