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Pierre provides spark in Dodgers' win

Pierre provides spark in Dodgers' win

MIAMI -- Dodgers manager Joe Torre said Juan Pierre has accepted his demotion to the bench like a professional.

Loosely translated, that means Pierre hasn't become a pain in the neck, which is always an option for a benched veteran, but not for someone of Pierre's solid makeup.

It doesn't mean Pierre is happy with a reduced role, but whatever is going on in his head isn't interfering with his game, as he showed Thursday when the Dodgers beat the Marlins, 5-3, with a ninth-inning rally to extend their win streak to six.

Getting a rare start against one of his former teams, Pierre doubled in two runs, scored a third and had a sacrifice bunt to help set up the winning rally. Pierre said he had to contribute offensively after taking the blame for Florida's first run when he misjudged a popup by Matt Treanor into a third-inning single.

Afterwards, he carefully explained how he balances the disappointment of being the fourth outfielder (since Andruw Jones' acquisition) with being the hard-working pro that he is.

"It's a big adjustment, and of course I'm not happy with it, but pouting won't do any good," said Pierre, who has six more RBIs than the slumping Jones in 33 fewer at-bats. Pierre is batting .273, Jones .159.

Pierre's agent exchanged voicemails with Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti around the end of Spring Training, when Pierre learned he wouldn't be starting. Otherwise, Pierre won't talk about whether he wants to be a Dodger, despite being in the second year of a five-year contract.

"He's smart enough to understand that if he's concerned with things he has no control over, it will affect everybody," said Torre. "He's a good team player."

But after pretty much doing what was expected of him last year (.293, 96 runs, 64 steals) only to lose his job, Pierre did say that he doesn't want to sit on the bench.

"What can I do? Try to play hard and it's just one of those things I've got to deal with until something works itself out," Pierre said, an apparent reference to a trade that would resolve the outfield jam. "If you know me and my history, I'm a guy that plays every day, lefty, righty, and I always have.

"I don't see myself as a bench player. I'm not accepting it, not by any means. It's their decision. They make out the lineup."

Torre made out an unusual one for this early day game after a night game, sitting Jones, James Loney and Jeff Kent. But that didn't stop the Dodgers from a second consecutive sweep.

Matt Kemp delivered a clutch RBI single in the ninth and the Dodgers added an insurance run when the Marlins -- who came into the series in first place, but didn't play like it -- committed two errors on the same play.

The ninth started with the second walk of the game to Rafael Furcal (the Dodgers had eight walks) and Pierre bunted him to second. Kemp stroked a single to right off losing pitcher Kevin Gregg and eventually came around to score when the Marlins got sloppy on defense.

"He was trying to sink the ball in and I just stayed short trying to inside-out the pitch," said Kemp. "Me and [hitting coach Mike] Easler have been trying to get me to push it that way. It worked, I guess."

That gave the win to reliever Joe Beimel, his third victory in the last four games, even though in this one he made only one pitch. That was 84 pitches fewer than were delivered by starter Hiroki Kuroda, who took the no-decision because of one pitch -- he hung a slider for a two-run tying homer in the fifth inning by former Dodger Cody Ross, letting a 3-1 lead get away.

Otherwise, Kuroda threw his best game since his debut in San Diego, allowing five hits in seven innings with four strikeouts and no walks.

"Kuroda was terrific," said Torre. "His pitch count was as good as the first time he pitched. He pitched well enough to win."

Takashi Saito struck out a pair in a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his second save of the series and fourth of the year.

"His location the last two times out has been right on the money," said Torre.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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