D'Amico ends three-game losing streak


PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The Montreal Expos can't wait to get home. For
a change, the Pittsburgh Pirates played like they enjoyed being at

Aramis Ramirez, Kenny Lofton and Reggie Sanders homered and the
Pirates finally reached the double-digit mark in home wins, beating
the Expos 7-3 in the first game of a doubleheader Wednesday night.

The Pirates bunched five singles in a span of six batters during
a decisive three-run fourth inning against Livan Hernandez (6-5) to
win their third in a row. Montreal matched its longest losing
streak this season by losing its fifth straight.

Pittsburgh needed 31 games to do so, but finally became the last
NL team to reach the 10-win mark in home victories. The Pirates are
10-21 at PNC Park. Only the Tigers, who went into Wednesday night's
game against Cleveland with a 6-27 home mark, have fewer home
victories in the majors.

Jeff D'Amico (5-7) ended his three-game losing streak, limiting
the Expos to six hits and two runs in six innings. He is 3-0
against Montreal the last two seasons, winning twice with the Mets
last season.
"I felt like I had plenty left," said D'Amico, who wanted to
stay in the game. "I felt fine."

Manager Lloyd McClendon went to his bullpen after D'Amico began
getting some of his pitches up in the sixth inning.

"I saw him elevate it a bit. I decided I'd seen enough,"
McClendon said. "He did a good job. He was very effective with the
fastball; he usually sets up his changeup and curveball with his
fastball, but he did just the opposite."

The Expos put runners on first and second with one out in the
ninth against Pirates reliever Scott Sauerbeck, but Mike Williams
came on to get the final two outs for his 19th save in 22
opportunities. Joe Beimel allowed one run in pitching the seventh
and eighth.

McClendon was worried the Pirates might lose some of their edge
offensively during a two-day layoff that came after they scored 21
runs in consecutive weekend wins against Tampa Bay. The Expos and
Pirates were rained out Tuesday night.

"I didn't want the two days off, but we showed no ill effects
of it," McClendon said.

Losing in a doubleheader is nothing new to the Expos, who have
five straight losses in makeup doubleheaders during an arduous
25-day, 22-game journey from Montreal that ends Thursday in
Pittsburgh. They are 7-13 during the extended road swing, which
included six games in Puerto Rico.

"We're just up there flailing away," manager Frank Robinson
said of the Expos, who have scored only 12 runs during their
current losing streak. "It looks like we have no idea what we're
doing up there."

Of Hernandez's five losses, three have been in makeup twinbills.
He also lost the first game of rain-forced doubleheaders May 28 at
Florida and June 1 at Philadelphia, and the Expos went on to lose
the second game both times.

Hernandez (6-5) gave up six runs and eight hits in 4 2-3
innings, the shortest of his 14 starts this season. He struck out
seven, but was hurt constantly by leaving breaking pitches over the

"My slider and changeup weren't working too much," Hernandez
said. "I needed to throw a lot of curve balls -- my slider wasn't
doing anything -- and I don't want to throw so many curve balls."

After Lofton led off the Pirates' first with his eighth homer
and Montreal's Wil Cordero hit his sixth an inning later, the
Pirates took a 4-1 lead in the fourth. Randall Simon, Matt Stairs
had consecutive one-out RBI singles after Jason Kendall and Brian
Giles singled to start the inning.

Pittsburgh chased Hernandez an inning later on Ramirez's two-run
homer, a line drive that caught the left-field foul pole just as it
was about to curve foul. The homer came on a hanging breaking ball.
Sanders hit his ninth homer in the sixth, a pinch-hit shot off
reliever Joey Eischen.

Game notes
The Pirates began the season by winning four straight, but
haven't won more than three straight since then. ... Hernandez had
won his last two starts. ... Lofton returned after sitting out two
games with a sore foot. ... Cordero was 1-for-20 before getting
hits his first two times up. ... The Pirates were 1-9 in June
before winning three straight. ... D'Amico won a June start for the
first time since June 28, 1997, with Milwaukee. He had been 0-6
with a 9.07 ERA in nine June starts since then.