Brett Tomko retired the final 10 batters to finish up a four-hitter and Mike Matheny hit a tiebreaking homer in the sixth inning, carrying the Giants past the offense-starved Pittsburgh Pirates 3-2 on Friday night.
After losing Benitez until at least September with a torn hamstring, manager Felipe Alou implemented a closer-by-committee until he settled on a replacement. So far, Alou hasn't needed to make a choice thanks to an 10-3 win Wednesday over San Diego and
Tomko's strong start.
"We still have a problem here -- we don't know who's going to close the game," Alou said, smiling. "Nothing was really solved tonight."
Except that Tomko seems to be settling in after the Giants scored only three runs combined in his first three starts, all losses.
Tomko (2-3) didn't allow a hit after David Ross' one-out double in the fifth, retiring all but one of the final 15 hitters. He pitched so well, Alou let him bat with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth. He struck out, but the Giants wound up not needing any more runs.
"The bullpen thing is still up in the air, and I've got to leave him in there," Alou said. "He was throwing well. He was really popping the ball."
Tomko shook off a two-run fourth inning in which the Pirates got three of their four hits to pitch his 10th career complete game -- third against Pittsburgh.
"He started out throwing 94-96 (mph) and really got going with the fastball, then in the later innings threw some pitches they hadn't seen, the changeup and his two breaking balls," Matheny said.
Despite the previous lack of support for Tomko, the Giants looked ready to have a big first inning, leading 2-0 only three batters into the game and ending Pittsburgh's streak of 18 consecutive scoreless innings pitched.
"I hadn't seen that in a while," Tomko said of the early lead.
Omar Vizquel doubled home Ellison and Edgardo Alfonzo singled him in, and Redman walked Moises Alou. It was a familiar start for Redman against the Giants, who hit six home runs and scored 11 runs in 10 2/3 innings while beating him twice last season when he was with Oakland.
But Redman got Pedro Feliz on a fly ball and Ray Durham to ground into a double play and then allowed only two more hits until
Matheny broke the 2-all tie with a two-out drive into the left field seats. Matheny's homer was his second, his first since San Francisco's second game of the season.
"It was probably the one mistake he made the whole game," Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said of Redman's over-the-plate fastball to Matheny. "He pitched well enough for us to win. We just didn't get it done."
Nothing new there. The Pirates have scored two runs in each of their last four games and have a major league-low 59 runs in 21 games. Every other team has scored at least 77 runs.
"I've never seen it before where an entire lineup is going through a funk," said Jack Wilson, who is hitting .169 after getting 201 hits last season. "To have so many guys in your
everyday lineup not hitting, that's tough. Everybody's frustrated."
The Pirates tied it on Daryle Ward's RBI double and Tike Redman's sacrifice fly in the fourth but had only one more hit,
the Ross double. Tomko struck out seven and walked one while improving to 3-1 at PNC Park.
The Giants won their third in a row and dropped the Pirates to 3-7 at home.
Ellison had reached base nine consecutive times, including a walk, until the strikeout. He is hitting .571 (12-for-21) when he starts. ... The last Giants player to have eight consecutive hits
was right-hander Livan Hernandez in August 2001. The major-league record is 12 in a row. ... Tomko didn't pitch longer than 6 2/3 innings in his previous four starts. His last previous complete game was an 8-1 victory Sept. 15 against Milwaukee. ... Vizquel did not face
Pirates closer Jose Mesa, who hit the shortstop with a pitch in 2002 after Vizquel charged in a book the reliever cost the Indians the 1997 World Series. Mesa threatened Vizquel during spring training
in 2003, prompting the commissioner's office to investigate, but the two have not faced each other since.