Brandon Moss' two-run single gave Pittsburgh an early lead and the Pirates, stuck in their worst slump since 1984, used five pitchers to beat Los Angeles 3-1 on Friday night, stalling the Dodgers' drive to the playoffs.
The Dodgers, who own the NL's best record at 92-62, could have secured their third playoff appearance in four seasons with a win or a Braves loss, but Atlanta beat Washington 4-1 to stay in the wild-card race for at least one more day.
The Dodgers' magic number for repeating as the NL West champion remained at four, partly because they are only 2-2 this week against the majors' two worst clubs, the Nationals and Pirates.
Los Angeles had won 11 of 15 and the Pirates _ long since assured of a record 17th consecutive losing season _ had lost nine of 10, but two costly infield errors by the Dodgers led to all of Pittsburgh's scoring. Despite winning, the Pirates have lost 23 of 27 during their worst slide since they dropped 24 of 28 from July 13-Aug. 15, 1985.
Right-hander Jon Garland (11-12) lost for the first time in four decisions since being traded to the Dodgers, giving up three runs and six hits in six innings. Garland was 3-0 with a 2.33 ERA in his first four starts with Los Angeles, beating the Pirates 6-2 on Sept. 14.
With right-hander Ross Ohlendorf shut down for the season because he has pitched 176 2-3 innings, manager John Russell used five pitchers from his bullpen to beat the Dodgers in Pittsburgh for only the eighth time in 31 games since PNC Park opened in 2001.
Jeff Karstens, making his first start since June 5, gave up Orlando Hudson's RBI double in the second while pitching three innings, but the four relievers who followed combined allowed four hits in six scoreless innings.
Donnie Veal (1-0), a December draft pick who has rarely been used in close games this season, followed with two shutout innings for his first career victory. He also put down a sacrifice bunt in his first career plate appearance.
Steven Jackson pitched the sixth, Jesse Chavez the seventh and eighth and Matt Capps, getting a rare save opportunity of late, finished for his 26th save in 31 opportunities. He hadn't had a save since Sept. 13.
After third baseman Blake DeWitt's two-base throwing error on Andy LaRoche's grounder led to Garrett Jones' sacrifice fly in the first, LaRoche and Jones singled with one out in the third. First baseman James Loney then misplayed Ryan Doumit's hard-hit grounder for an error that loaded the bases. Moss followed a batter later with his two-run single into left.
The Pirates' bullpen by committee was seldom in trouble after that, although Veal got Hudson to fly out following DeWitt's double in the fourth. Chavez drew perhaps the biggest cheer from the crowd of 19,452 by getting Manny Ramirez to ground into an inning-ending double play in the eighth.
The Dodgers swept the Pirates in a three-game series in Los Angeles last week.
NOTES: Dodgers 3B Casey Blake (hamstring) didn't start for the third straight day, so DeWitt made his sixth start of the season. ... Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, in town for the G-20 summit, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. ... 3B Pedro Alvarez, who had 27 homers and 95 RBIs at Double-A Altoona and Class A Lynchburg, was chosen as the Pirates' minor league player of the year.