<
>

Jenkins comes back strong with two-run HR

4/9/2003

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Geoff Jenkins wanted to prove he was all right. Todd Ritchie wanted to prove the Pittsburgh Pirates were all wrong.

Jenkins, playing for the first time since tearing up his right ankle last season, hit a two-run homer to support Ritchie's strong start and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-2 Wednesday night.

It was a comeback night for Ritchie, who ended a nearly year-long road losing streak, and Jenkins, who spent months in rehabilitation after tearing ligaments inside and outside his dislocated ankle June 17 in Houston.

After Jenkins homered twice Tuesday for Double-A Huntsville on a
rehabilitation assignment, manager Ned Yost said he wished Jenkins
saved the homers for Pittsburgh. Jenkins must have listened.

Jenkins grounded out weakly in his first two at-bats, then followed Richie Sexson's single off Josh Fogg (1-1) in the sixth with a drive into the right-center field seats -- his first homer since the day before getting injured.

Not only did Jenkins pick up the offense, Yost said he gave the
Brewers a lift just by walking into the clubhouse.

"It's a big boost having him back,'' Yost said. "His presence really helps. He's that type of player. It just like him to step in and help right away.''

Jenkins apparently wasn't as confident as his manager was he
could do that right away.

"Obviously, it's nice to come back and contribute,'' said Jenkins, who missed most of spring training with a sore left wrist. "I wasn't expecting too much the first day back. I was actually pretty nervous. It's been a long time. I haven't played since June. This was a big game for me.''

And for Ritchie, traded by the Pirates to the White Sox in a five-player deal 16 months ago. The trade was much criticized in Chicago as Ritchie went 5-15, while the Pirates got a combined 24 wins from Fogg and Kip Wells.

Ritchie wasn't tendered a contract by the White Sox after a season in which he was 1-10 on the road, and he subsequently signed with the Brewers.

"I wanted to go out and show I'm still a good pitcher,''
Ritchie said. "I wanted to show I was worth a gamble to pick up as
a starter. I probably had a little extra adrenaline going.''

It was Ritchie's first road victory in 10 decisions since beating Oakland on April 28, 2002.

Ritchie retired the first 16 batters before Jack Wilson singled
and he led 3-0 when lifted, but Kenny Lofton hit a two-run triple
off reliever John Foster in the eighth.

It was the second straight night the Brewers' bullpen couldn't
preserve a shutout, as Luis Vizcaino gave up Jason Kendall's
three-run homer Tuesday after Glendon Rusch pitched seven shutout
innings. Milwaukee held on to win 5-3.

This time, Vizcaino replaced Foster and promptly walked Kendall
and Brian Giles to load the bases, then got Aramis Ramirez, who is
batting .194, to pop up.

Mike DeJean pitched the ninth for his second save in as many
nights.

Ritchie (1-0) followed a start in which he had almost no control
with one in which he was in total control, striking out five and
walking none in 7 1/3 innings. On Friday, Ritchie gave up eight
runs and four hits in six innings, walking four, hitting two
batters and throwing two wild pitches in the Brewers' 7-5
home-opener loss to the Giants.

Maybe it was being back in Pittsburgh that settled the
right-hander down; he was 22-11 in Pittsburgh while pitching for
the Pirates from 1999-2001.

"He was obviously pumped up,'' Fogg said. "All you can is try
to match him zero for zero, but I couldn't get it done.''

The Pirates have lost two straight at home since starting the
season with a 5-1 road trip.

"It makes you mad, but it's over and you have to get ready for
the next day,'' manager Lloyd McClendon said. "We've seen some
great pitching the last two days.''

The Brewers, winning their second straight following an 0-6
start, also scored in the second on Wes Helms' double and third
baseman Ramirez's two-base throwing error on Royce Clayton's
two-out grounder.

Game notes
Jenkins' homer was the Brewers' 13th in eight games but their first in three games. ... Jenkins had 10 homers in 243
at-bats last season before getting hurt. ... Giles hasn't struck out in 63 plate appearances since Sept. 20. ... The Pirates haven't allowed a stolen base. ... The gametime temperature was 45, and a steady breeze made it feel much colder.