Final

Series: Game 1 of 3

Pittsburgh leads 1-0 (as of 4/4)

Game 1: Friday, April 4
Pittsburgh9Final
Philadelphia1
Game 2: Saturday, April 5
Pittsburgh1Final
Philadelphia16
Game 3: Sunday, April 6
Pittsburgh2Final
Philadelphia0

Pirates 9

(4-0, 4-0 away)

Phillies 1

(2-2, 0-1 home)

1:35 PM ET, April 4, 2003

Veterans Stadium, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 

123456789 R H E
PIT 511100100 9 12 0
PHI 010000000 1 3 0

W: J. Suppan (1-0)

L: J. Roa (0-1)

S: S. Torres (1)

Sanders continues torrid pace for unbeaten Pirates

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The Pittsburgh Pirates are playing the spoiler role early in the season.

Reggie Sanders is batting .571 after four games this season.

Reggie Sanders hit a grand slam for his fourth homer in four games, and the Pirates ruined Jim Thome's home debut, beating the Philadelphia Phillies 9-1 Friday before a sellout crowd of 59,269 in the final opener at Veterans Stadium.

Pittsburgh swept a season-opening three-game series against the Reds, spoiling Cincinnati's debut of Great American Ball Park. The Pirates' 4-0 start is their best since 1993, when they began their run of 10 consecutive years without a winning record. They opened 5-1 last season, only to finish with 89 losses.

"We're playing well, but I don't expect to continue at this pace,'' Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said.

Thome, whose $85 million, six-year contract was the biggest signing of the offseason, hit a triple high off the wall in left-center field on the first pitch he saw from Jeff Suppan. But the Phillies already trailed 6-0 by the time he came to the plate in the second.

"It was a lot of excitement,'' Thome said. "Unfortunately, the outcome wasn't what we wanted.''

Suppan (1-0) allowed one run and three hits in six innings in his Pirates debut. He was 9-16 with a 5.32 ERA for Kansas City last season.

Phillies starter Joe Roa (0-1) lasted just two innings, giving up six runs and six hits. It was Roa's first start against Pittsburgh since the Pirates traded him to the Phillies for no compensation last March.

"I set the tone for them,'' Roa said. "I never got into the game plan that I went out there with.''

Roa retired Kenny Lofton to start the game, but gave up singles to Jason Kendall and Brian Giles before walking Aramis Ramirez. Randall Simon's RBI single made it 1-0, and Sanders followed with a shot that just cleared the wall in left-center, giving the Pirates a 5-0 lead.

Sanders, playing for his fifth team in five seasons, is hitting .571 (8-for-14) with 11 RBI. Sanders, who played for the NL champion San Francisco Giants last season, signed with the Pirates just six weeks ago.

"I worked hard in the offseason to get myself prepared and it's just carried over,'' Sanders said. "I'm obviously pleased with the way everything is going.''

Pat Burrell drove in the Phillies' only run on a RBI groundout that scored Thome in the second.

Simon was 3-for-4 with two RBI and Pokey Reese added a solo homer for the Pirates. Salomon Torres pitched three innings for his first save.

"The early runs helped,'' McClendon said. "It was important to get the crowd out of it.''

Both teams wore uniforms from the 1970s, with the Pirates clad in yellow pants and jerseys with black caps. The Phillies had on uniforms from 1971, their first season at the Vet. The concrete jungle will be torn down after this season, and the Phillies will play in a new 43,000-seat, baseball-only stadium in 2004.

Philadelphia, baseball's biggest spender last offseason, opened with two victories against Florida, justifying the $185 million management committed in salaries for Thome, Kevin Millwood, David Bell and others. But the Phillies have lost two straight by a combined total of 17-4.

"Obviously we wanted a better showing,'' Phillies manager Larry Bowa said. "Five runs in the first inning is like putting a pin in the balloon.''

Thome, who hit a club-record 52 homers for Cleveland last year, got a loud standing ovation during pregame introductions. He got another ovation when he stepped to the plate for the first time, and even got a few cheers after he flied out with two runners on in the third.

Game notes


The Pirates have outscored their opponents 33-11 in four games. ... Thome homered in his first spring-training at-bat, and had an RBI double on the first pitch he saw of the regular season. ... Sanders has three career grand slams and 14 homers at the Vet. ... The Phillies are 14-19 in Vet openers. It was the fifth sellout for a home opener at the Vet -- and the first since 1994, when the Phillies were coming off a World Series appearance. ... Phillies reliever Hector Mercado allowed three runs and six hits in five innings. ... It was the largest crowd at a Vet opener since 60,985 turned out to see the Phillies play the Chicago Cubs in 1993. It was the largest crowd at the Vet since 59,470 came out to see the Phillies play the New York Yankees on July 15, 2001.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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