Pirates host Dodgers in battle of playoff hopefuls

Two of the National League's three second-place teams get together tonight when the Los Angeles Dodgers head to PNC Park to open a four- game series with the host Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Dodgers trail the San Francisco Giants by a single game in the NL's West Division, while the Pirates are 4 1/2 games in back of the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central.

The teams are simultaneously locked in a contest for the league's two postseason wild card berths, with the Pirates now holding a 2 1/2-game edge on the Dodgers for the second spot.

Atlanta leads the Pirates by two games for slot No. 1.

Right-hander Aaron Harang takes the mound for the Dodgers in search of his first victory since mid-July. The California native was 7-5 on the season after a 7-6 defeat of the New York Mets at Citi Field on July 20, but has since gone 0-2 in three starts.

Harang was touched for six hits and three runs in a 3-1 loss to Colorado in his most recent start, which included four walks and four strikeouts and saw his earned run average swell slightly from 3.76 to 3.80.

He's 14-6 in 24 career starts against the Pirates with a 4.28 ERA in 153 1/3 innings, mostly from his days with the Reds, with whom he pitched from 2003 and 2010.

Pittsburgh starts righty Jeff Karstens, who's not beaten the Dodgers in six career meetings.

The 29-year-old, like Harang also a native of San Diego, dropped a 3-2 decision in Los Angeles on April to fall to 0-3 against the Dodgers with a 5.25 ERA in 24 innings.

Karstens gave up three runs on seven hits over five innings in the start, his second of 2012 after he won nine of 18 decisions with the Pirates in 2011.

He's 4-0 in his last seven outings this season and hasn't lost since June 25 while dropping his ERA from 6.35 to 3.77.

On Sunday in Miami, Chris Capuano took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, Hanley Ramirez drove in three runs and the Dodgers downed the Marlins, 5-0, in the rubber match of a three-game series.

Capuano (11-8) had lost six of his previous seven decision but tossed eight scoreless innings on Sunday, surrendering just two hits and three walks while striking out 10.

Jose Reyes broke up the veteran lefty's no-hitter with a one-out single in the seventh.

"Jose's got a quick bat. I left one over the middle and he smoked it," Capuano said.

In Pittsburgh, Clint Barmes smacked a grand slam to key a nine-run fourth inning and the Pirates avoided a three-game sweep with an 11-5 win over the San Diego Padres.

Neil Walker went 5-for-5 with a homer, two RBI and scored twice and Andrew McCutchen had two hits and drove in a pair for the Pirates, who snapped a three-game skid. Michael McKenry also knocked in two in the victory.

"That's the thing about this group, even when we were down 5-0, we knew the importance of focusing and staying focused in this game and grinding out the at-bats," Walker said. "Got the bases loaded there and Barmes came up with maybe one of the biggest hits of the year."

Erik Bedard (7-12) earned the win despite giving up five runs - three earned - on five hits with six strikeouts over five frames.

The Dodgers swept a three-game series between the teams on April in California and won last year's season series, 6-2. Pittsburgh last won the season series in 2000.