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Brawlin' Sheff Cooks Dodgers

Gary Sheffield woke up the Pittsburgh Pirates.

With Los Angeles leading by three runs, Sheffield started a fight with Pittsburgh catcher Jason Kendall, igniting a bench-clearing brawl and landing the Dodgers' right fielder in the hospital.

"The fight fired me up and fired everybody up," Pirates starting pitcher Jason Schmidt said after Pittsburgh avoided a three-game sweep by rallying for a 6-4 victory. "But we can't fight every night and come back and win. We've got to come out early and be ready to play hard every day."

The Pirates trailed 4-1 at the time of the brawl. But Al Martin's two-run homer off Dave Mlicki only his second home run in a 47-game span started the Pirates' comeback in the seventh.

Sheffield homered and drove in three runs before initiating the scuffle in the bottom of the sixth.

Paul Konerko's RBI single chased Schmidt and made it 4-1. With runners at the corners, Konerko was picked off by winning pitcher Mike Williams (1-0) and got himself in a rundown.

Sheffield broke for the plate and first baseman Kevin Young threw home, where Kendall tagged out Sheffield cleanly but solidly as he came in standing up.

The two players began to tangle and the benches and bullpens emptied.

"He came by and slapped me in the head and knocked my helmet off," Kendall said. "I mean, if you're going to run me over, then run me over and I'll tip my cap to you. But he slapped me in the head and I thought it was a weak play. A couple of words were said and that was it."

Sheffield left the field bleeding from his left eyelid and was taken to UCLA Medical Center for vision tests.

"It was a tough way to lose," Dodgers manager Glenn Hoffman said. "I just hope we don't lose Gary, too."

The brawl, which resulted in the ejections of Sheffield and Kendall, seemed to affect Dodgers starter Dave Mlicki. The right-hander gave up a leadoff single in the seventh to Young after retiring 13 consecutive Pirates, then surrendered Martin's seventh homer two batters later. That ended Mlicki's streak of 28 1-3 innings without allowing an earned run the longest of the season by a Dodger.

"It had nothing to do with the fight," Mlicki said. "Everyone probably thinks it was a momentum swing, but I just made two bad pitches the only bad pitches I feel like I made all night."

Pinch-hitter Mark Smith began a two-run rally in the eighth with a leadoff single against Scott Radinsky (2-4). Smith later scored when Keith Osik, who replaced Kendall, slid hard into shortstop Wilton Guerrero to break up a potential double-play grounder by Young.

Manny Martinez scored the go-ahead run when rookie third baseman Adrian Beltre fielded Jose Guillen's grounder and made a throw in the dirt thaEric Karros couldn't handle.

The Pirates added a run in the ninth on Guerrero's fielding error, his second miscue of the game.

"We gave them too many chances at the end," Hoffman said. "There were some plays that we should have made and made mistakes And if you give them that many outs, they're going to come back and beat you. And that's what happened."

Williams earned the victory by retiring all four batters he faced. Rich Loiselle pitched two perfect innings for his 13th save.

Notes: Konerko has 13 RBIs this month, 11 more than he had in 68 at-bats during April and May. ... The Dodgers named former third baseman Tim Wallach as manager of their Class A San Bernardino farm club to replace Mickey Hatcher, who replaced Reggie Smith as hitting coach last Wednesday. Mark Cresse, who also was fired during last Wednesday's late-night purge after 22 years as bullpen coach, turned down the offer to manage San Bernardino. ... With the loss, the Dodgers have the same 39-42 record they had a year ago at this time. But last season, they had to make up only an eight-game deficit to take over first place not the 13 ½ -game gap that faces them now. ... Pittsburgh's Turner Ward is hitless in his last 15 at-bats.

©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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