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Giants take advantage of Bay's error

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Giants manager Felipe Alou finally figured out who his closer will be without the injured Armando Benitez. Namely, everyone in his bullpen.

The Giants used all but one of their eight relievers in a 7-6 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday night that started with Deivi Cruz's two-run homer in the first and ended with pitcher Jim Brower stranding the potential tying run in the ninth.

"I think that game was saved about two or three times," Alou said. "It's going to be like that until water clears and we see how going to use those guys."

So why did Alou use Brower to get the final four outs of a game the Giants led 7-4 in the seventh before almost letting their fourth consecutive victory get away?

"He was left," Alou said. "It was not programmed that way."

That Alou all but emptied his bullpen didn't surprise Matt Herges, who had 23 saves last season but was used to get an out to end the seventh and another to start the eighth.

"This is honestly no surprise to anybody," Herges said. "Right now without Armando, it's, 'Hey, I'm going to match up no matter how many guys it takes.' He knows we're durable and this is what he's going to do until he's totally comfortable with one guy --
which I don't know will ever happen."

The only pitcher not used was Scott Munter, and he was optioned to Triple-A Fresno after the game so right-hander Brad Hennessey could be recalled to start Sunday against the Pirates.

"And I was going to use him [Munter] to save it if the game got tied and [the Giants retook the lead]," Alou said.

The Giants held on with the help of some excellent defense and Pittsburgh's first error in eight games, on center fielder Jason Bay for overrunning Pedro Feliz's RBI single. It was Pittsburgh's first error in 71 innings but scored the go-ahead run in a
three-run sixth after starter Dave Williams (1-3) took a 4-3 lead into the inning.

Cruz and Moises Alou singled, bringing on reliever Rick White.
Feliz's run-scoring single tied it, with Alou also scoring on the play on Bay's error. Mike Matheny, whose solo homer decided the Giants' 3-2 win Friday night, followed with a two-out RBI single that made it 6-4.

Brower got only his second save in two seasons, allowing Freddy Sanchez's RBI single in the ninth before getting pinch-hitter Bobby Hill on a grounder to end the game.

Pittsburgh has scored a major league-low 65 runs but couldn't win even when it scored more than four runs for the first time in 12 games.

"But I don't think anybody's panicking about our offense," said Ty Wigginton, who just missed a bases-loaded hit when first baseman J.T. Snow grabbed his line drive to end the fifth. "We had some great at-bats, but it just seems like the ball isn't bouncing our way."

The Pirates are starting a left-hander in every game of the three-game weekend series, allowing Felipe Alou to stack his lineup with right-handed batters. That paid off in the first when Cruz followed Omar Vizquel's one-out double with his first homer since Oct. 3. The Giants also opened a 2-0 lead in the first inning Friday.

Moises Alou, who brought a .148 average into the game, went 2-for-4 and drove in a run with a force-play grounder in the second that made it 3-0.

The Pirates, now 3-8 at home, came back to lead 4-3 on Humberto Cota's homer in the third -- his first and Pittsburgh's first in five games -- and RBI grounders by Bay, Wigginton and Daryle Ward.

Giants starter Noah Lowry was lifted for Tyler Walker (2-0) with the bases loaded and Pittsburgh leading 4-3 with one out in the fifth. Walker got Sanchez to ground into a force play at the plate and Wigginton on the liner.

"We just couldn't get that knockout hit we needed," manager Lloyd McClendon said.

Game notes
The Giants record for most pitchers in a nine-inning game is 11, set against the Cubs in 1998 after rosters were expanded in September. ... Lowry has gone three successive starts without winning after starting his career 7-0. ... The Pirates have been outscored 23-9 in Williams' last three starts. ... Williams has an 8-18 career record as a starter. His 9.95 ERA against San Francisco is his highest against any opposing team. ... This is the first time since Barry Bonds broke into then majors with the Pirates in 1986 he won't play in Pittsburgh during an entire season. He is out with a right knee injury and the Giants don't return to PNC Park
after this weekend. ... The Giants' Jason Ellison had two more hits, making him 13-for-22 (.591) as a starter. He is 13-for-20 (.650) against left-handers.