PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The Alous and Niekros turned the San Francisco Giants' three-game weekend sweep of Pittsburgh into a very happy major-league family reunion.
Moises Alou and Lance Niekro each homered and drove in three runs in front of their ex-big-leaguer fathers and the Giants used rookie Brad Hennessey's solid seven-inning start to beat the Pirates 8-3 on Sunday.With Hennessey (1-0) allowing three runs and five hits over seven innings in his first start this season, the Giants won their sixth in a row after dropping nine of 11. The three-game sweep in Pittsburgh was their first since May 10-12, 1996.Alou, breaking out of a season-long slump with a big weekend, drove in three runs and reached base five times during a 3-for-3 day. Niekro -- whose pitcher father Joe grew up an hour away near Lansing, Ohio, and was in the stands -- had a two-run shot in the
fifth and an RBI double in the seventh."Just to see that name 'Niekro' on the back in a major-league park creates a great sense of pride," said Joe Niekro, a 221-game winner in the majors and the brother of Hall of Famer Phil Niekro. "He got me out of my chair in a hurry. It was great."It was the first of Lance's three homers Joe got to see on TV or in person, so Lance said, "It was a thrill for me, too, just knowing he was up in the stands."Moises Alou didn't have to look far for his father, either, with manager Felipe Alou using four more relievers with a five-run lead after using seven the night before in a 7-6 victory.Moises Alou was hitting only .149 on Friday but went 5-for-8 with five walks in the series and scored four runs to boost his average to .265. He was one of the Giants most aided by the Pirates' decision to start all left-handers -- Mark Redman, Dave Williams and Oliver Perez -- after right-hander Josh Fogg's next start was pushed back to Monday by an ear infection."Maybe the three walks I took Friday night let me know I was seeing the ball well," said Moises Alou, who was out from April 7-21 with a strained right calf. "At least I was patient and seeing the ball well and that's why I got some hits in this series."Lance Niekro was called up from the minors only after Moises Alou was hurt and, with a .310 average and three homers in only 42 at-bats, is making it tough for the Giants to send him back -- just like Hennessey.Hennessey, called up from Triple-A Fresno so Jason Schmidt could rest an extra day following a 131-pitch start Tuesday, allowed two homers by Daryle Ward but otherwise had few problems in his first start since going 2-2 in his seven starts last season.The right-hander struck out six and walked two in his first career appearance against the Pirates and added a run-scoring single, his fourth hit and fourth RBI in 16 career at-bats."I'm not sure what they're going to do with me since they don't need another one [spot starter] for a while, so I'll just let the schedule work itself out," Hennessey said.With Perez (1-3) making yet another poor start, the Pirates lost their ninth in 13 games and are off to a terrible start at home for the second straight season. They are 3-9 at PNC Park after starting 4-13 there last season en route to a 72-89 record."When a young club isn't doing well at home, you start to press a little bit so maybe it's better to go on the road and relax," manager Lloyd McClendon said.The problem -- the Pirates go next to Houston, where they have dropped 19 of their last 21 and 34 of 41.Perez pitched 7 2/3 shutout innings in a 2-0 victory Monday over Houston, only to give up six runs and seven hits in five innings to jump his ERA to 7.11. He walked five and struck out one and left trailing 6-2 after allowing four runs with two outs."He needs to be more aggressive and finish off innings," catcher Humberto Cota said. "It's a little frustrating."Alou made it 3-2 in the third with his second homer, a drive that scraped the left field foul pole after Perez walked Deivi Cruz with two out. Hennessey's single made it 4-2 in the fourth, and Niekro homered after yet another walk, to Alou, in the fifth.
The Giants were 1-5 against the Pirates last season. ... Perez, who had a 2.98 ERA and 239 strikeouts while going 12-10 last season, has 23 walks and 28 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings. ... Leadoff hitter Jason Ellison also had a productive weekend against the lefties, reaching eight times while going 6-for-13. He is 13-for-22 against lefties. ... Despite Ward's two homers, the Pirates have only 13 in 23 games.