<
>

Marlins lose for eighth straight time in Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The Florida Marlins are running out of excuses
to explain their mystifying inability to win in Pittsburgh.

Daryle Ward hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the seventh inning
and the Pirates withstood a homer-filled start by Oliver Perez to
beat Florida 5-4 Tuesday night, the Marlins' eighth consecutive
loss in Pittsburgh.

"It's like when you come in here, you're snakebit, no matter
what you do. You make one mistake, and it costs you here," Florida
manager Jack McKeon said. "But it will turn -- hopefully."

The Pirates haven't had a winning season since 1992, yet are
10-1 against the Marlins in Pittsburgh the last four years, a
stretch that includes Florida's 2003 World Series championship
season. They are 7-1 overall against Florida the last two seasons.

The Pirates trailed 2-1 and 4-3 as the Marlins hit three solo
home runs off Perez -- by Carlos Delgado, Juan Encarnacion and
Miguel Cabrera -- but took the lead after reliever Nate Bump (0-2)
quickly retired the first two batters in the seventh.

After Jason Bay singled, Ward hit a 2-2 pitch into the
right-field seats for his 10th homer and the Pirates' 39th in May --
four off the club record for a month set in August 1947 by the
Ralph Kiner-led Pirates.

"A broken-bat single and a curveball that was just a bad
pitch," Bump said, explaining how the inning got away from him.
"It was right where he likes it. It was not a good pitch. You're
feeling like you're in control, but that's not the place where you
want to put it."

Until then, Marlins starter A.J. Burnett was in position to win
for the first time in five starts since April 29 after missing his
last start with an inflamed elbow. All three Pirates runs off
Burnett in six innings resulted from errors by a Florida defense
that had committed a NL-low 25 errors in its first 48 games.

Brian Meadows (1-0) and Mike Gonzalez each followed Perez with a
scoreless relief inning before Jose Mesa pitched the ninth for his
14th save in 16 opportunities and his first save since May 15. Mesa
was 0-4 with two blown saves in his previous six appearances.

"There's nothing like positive results," manager Lloyd
McClendon said. "That's got to make him feel good."

The Pirates scored in the second after catcher Matt Treanor
threw wildly on Perez's sacrifice bunt following Jack Wilson's
single, sending Wilson to third, and Matt Lawton hit a sacrifice
fly.

"Maybe we've figured out that any time we make a mistake, the
other team capitalizes on it," Ward said. "When teams make
mistakes against us, we've got to take advantage of them."

Second baseman Luis Castillo misplayed Humberto Cota's grounder
to start the Pirates' fourth, only his second error, and Lawton
walked ahead of Freddy Sanchez's two-run double. Sanchez also
singled in the winning run Monday in the Pirates' 3-2, 10-inning
win over Florida.

"I was really pumped up when he got that hit [Monday]," Ward
said of Sanchez, a utility infielder who has eight hits while
making five consecutive starts. "Here's a guy who doesn't even
know if he's going to make the team, and now he's playing and
really contributing -- it sounds like my story."

Ward, cast off by the Dodgers after hitting .183 in 2003, has 25
homers and 83 RBI in 443 at-bats the last two seasons despite
being sidelined for nearly two months last year by a right thumb
injury.

Delgado and Encarnacion hit long solo homers in succession in
the Marlins' fourth, Delgado's 10th and Encarnacion's seventh, and
Cabrera hit his 10th with one out in a two-run Marlins sixth. Mike
Lowell hit a sacrifice fly later in the inning to make it 4-3.

Perez didn't allow a walk -- he had walked 16 in his last 20
innings -- but was again hurt by homers. He has yielded 15 in 53 1/3
innings over 10 starts, 13 to right-handed hitters, and has given
up at least one homer in all but one of his 10 starts.

"I was throwing the ball more in the [strike] zone," said
Perez, who had walked nine in his two most recent starts. "But
they've got a lot of good hitters, and you can't make many mistakes
to them."

Game notes
The Marlins haven't won in Pittsburgh since an 11-1 victory
on Sept. 8, 2002, behind Carl Pavano. ... Florida has dropped six
of seven, scoring only 17 runs in its last six games. ...
Pittsburgh was 15-13 in May, Florida was 13-14. ... Florida is 3-11
in PNC Park, which opened in 2001. ... The Pirates have won
consecutive one-run games at home after losing their first seven
there. .. One of Burnett's fastballs was clocked at 104 mph on the
PNC Park scoreboard.