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James Loney, home-run machine, powers Dodgers past Pirates, 6-1

September 17, 2011 | 10:42 pm

Dodgers-loney_600 The thrill was gone, but apparently not the will.

The Dodgers were officially eliminated from the postseason Saturday before ever stepping on the field, Atlanta’s 1-0 afternoon victory over the Mets ending all possibility of capturing a wild-card berth.

That’s two consecutive years without making the playoffs.

Still, the bankrupt team put it aside and went out and downed the Pirates, 6-1, behind a strong start by Ted Lilly and another home run by James Loney before an announced crowd of 32,514.

Lilly went seven innings, holding the Pirates to one run and four hits. He walked two and struck out seven.

After a series of difficult starts, Lilly (10-14) is finishing the season well. In his last 10 starts, he has a 2.67 earned-run average.

And that finish is nothing compared to that of Loney, who after a miserable second half last season and a poor first half in 2011 is on the roll of a lifetime.

Loney, who hit a three-run homer Friday, hit another three-run blast in the first inning Saturday.

The first baseman is batting .355 in his last 37 games, with seven home runs, 13 doubles and 23 RBIs in 120 at-bats. On the season, he now has 11 homers.

In the first, ex-Dodger James McDonald walked Justin Sellers and gave up a single to Juan Rivera before Loney pulled his home into the right-field pavilion.

The Pirates scored their lone run when Lilly issued the only two walks he would allow all night to open the second inning. Josh Harrison doubled to score the run.

But Pittsburgh then went quietly against Lilly, who retired the next 10 consecutive Pirates and 17 of the last 20 he faced.

The Dodgers added to their lead with two more off McDonald (9-9) in the third when Matt Kemp singled and Rivera hit his fourth home run as a Dodger. In his 53 games since joining the Dodgers, Rivera has 37 RBIs.

McDonald lasted just three innings, allowing five runs, seven hits and two walks.

The Dodgers added an unearned run in the fifth after Aaron Miles was safe on Brandon Wood's throwing error. He took second on Jerry Sands' single and scored on Tim Federowicz's basehit. It was the first RBI of the young catcher's career.

Also, in the sixth inning Kemp stole second base for his 40th steal of the season.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: James Loney, left, celebrates his three run home run with teammate Aaron Miles. Credit: Gus Ruelas / Associated Press