<
>

Pittsburgh 8, Milwaukee 1 (1st game)

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon thinks
left-hander Oliver Perez belongs in the All-Star game despite his
recent long winless streak. His last two performances show why.

Tony Alvarez's grand slam supported another strong start by
Perez, and Pittsburgh won its sixth in a row with an 8-1 victory
over the Milwaukee Brewers in a doubleheader opener Friday.

Easily the Pirates' most consistent starter despite being
winless in his previous seven starts, Perez (4-4) struck out 11 in
seven innings to end Milwaukee's five-game winning streak. He
outpitched Doug Davis (8-6), who had won four in a row and five of
six.

Jack Wilson added a two-run inside-the-park homer, the first
since PNC Park opened in 2001, and doubled to help the Pirates
match their longest winning streak since a six-game run April
15-21, 2002. They have won seven of nine since dropping 12 of 14.

Perez developed a blister on his left index finger during the
third inning, but lasted seven innings and allowed five hits.

"It wasn't a problem," Perez said of the blister, speaking
through interpreter Humberto Cota. "I just wanted to throw
strikes, get us deep in the game and give us a chance to win."

Perez followed up a 13-strikeout outing in what became a 1-0
Pirates victory Saturday over Cincinnati with his ninth career
double-digit strikeout game and fourth this season. He leads NL
starting pitchers with an average of 10.9 strikeouts per nine
innings.

Despite going 0-3 since beating Colorado on May 13, Perez
allowed only 17 earned runs while striking over 58 during the
seven-game winless streak.

"He gets it, he really gets it," McClendon said. "He's up
there with the big boys now."

Doug Davis was coming off a 5-1 June record, but got himself in
trouble by walking five -- three in a five-run Pirates third in
which all the runs were driven in by J.J. Davis and Alvarez, who
had a combined two RBI this season.

Davis walked Jason Kendall, Craig Wilson and Chris Stynes around
J.J. Davis' RBI single, only his third hit in 24 at-bats. Alvarez,
just up from Triple-A, then ran the count full before hitting a
drive into the Brewers' bullpen in center that made it 5-0. It was
his first homer since his first career shot, Sept. 29, 2002, at
Wrigley Field.

"When it gets to 3-and-2, you know you can't walk him but you
can't give in and throw the ball right down the middle and that's
what happened, really ... the ball was just right in his nitro zone
and he hit it out," Doug Davis said.

Manager Ned Yost said, "He just couldn't get the pitch where he
wanted it. But it's hard to maintain the pace he (Doug Davis) has
been on, just lights out all the time."

Alvarez was considered one of the Pirates' top prospects two
years ago, batting .308 during a September recall. But he was not
called up from Triple-A Nashville during a sometimes troublesome
2003 season that included a one-week suspension for an unspecified
contract violation.

Jason Bay added a sacrifice fly in the fourth following Jack
Wilson's double, and Wilson circled the bases in the sixth when his
drive struck the left-field wall at an odd angle and bounded into
center field. Wilson was almost to third before the Brewers ran the
ball down.

It was the second time this week Wilson circled the bases on an
odd play at PNC Park, where he turned an apparent double into the
game-winning run to beat St. Louis 2-1 Monday. Wilson kept running
when he briefly saw second base uncovered and wound up scoring as
the Cardinals threw the ball away on what was ruled a triple.

Game notes
Perez has 348 strikeouts in 309 career innings. ... Pirates
starting pitchers have permitted only 15 earned runs over 59 2-3
innings in the last nine games, a 2.26 ERA. ... Milwaukee is 1-5
against Pittsburgh. ... It was May 3, 1973, at San Francisco when
the Pirates last had a grand slam (Al Oliver) and an
inside-the-park homer (Milt May) in the same game.