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Duke throws seven sharp innings for third straight victory

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Zach Duke didn't have his best stuff Thursday
night. He did have the concentration that has marked his impressive
rookie season.

The left-hander allowed eight hits and walked four but won his
third consecutive start when the Pittsburgh Pirates snapped a
five-game losing streak with an 8-1 victory over the Colorado
Rockies.

"It was a struggle, to be honest with you. My control wasn't
there, but I was able to come up with big pitches when I needed
them," Duke said. "You have to focus on each pitch, each
situation."

Duke (3-0) had pitched 22 consecutive innings without allowing a
run before the Rockies scored an unearned one in the sixth inning.
He got Danny Ardoin to ground out with a man on third in the second
and retired Matt Holliday on a fly ball with the bases loaded in
the third.

"He's shown the ability to add a little, reach back a little
more when he needs to," Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said.
"When he did get into trouble, he made some quality pitches."

Jason Bay went 3-for-4 with a homer and Humberto Cota drove in
three runs with two singles for the Pirates, who had scored only 16
runs in their previous nine games.

Bay followed Matt Lawton's one-out single in the second with a
homer to left, his 18th, to stake the Pirates to a 7-0 lead. Bay
singled and scored in a five-run first off starter Jeff Francis.

Francis (8-7) allowed eight hits and seven runs in 1 1/3 innings
and lasted just five innings. After winning three consecutive
starts, Francis is 0-2 in his last three starts and has allowed 18
earned runs in that span.

The loss followed a 3-2 win at Washington on Wednesday that gave
the Rockies their first series victory on the road this season.

"Your momentum is as good as your starting pitching," Colorado
manager Clint Hurdle said. "Theirs was good and ours wasn't good.
After the first two innings Francis settled down and got us to the
sixth, but way too much damage was done early."

By the time Cota singled off reliever Marcos Carvajal to score
Jose Castillo with two outs in the seventh, the Rockies were well
on their way to their 38th road loss of the season.

The Pirates sent 10 men to the plate in the first inning and
used six singles to score five runs -- all with two outs. It marked
the first time since July 9 the Pirates scored more than one run in
an inning.

"We haven't swung the bats very well. We haven't done much very
well lately," Bay said. "So it was nice to get out to a lead
early and not put any pressure on ourselves. It's nice to go out
there and play and have a little fun."

Francis allowed a single to leadoff hitter Chris Duffy and was
one out away from getting out of the first inning when Bay singled.
Castillo followed with a single to center, scoring Duffy.

Daryle Ward snapped an 0-for-30 slump with a single to right,
scoring Bay, and took second when Ardoin misplayed Eric Byrnes'
throw home. Cota singled to drive in two and Jack Wilson's single
added one more.

"I just got ahead of myself as far as trying to do a lot of
things at once instead of keeping things simple," Francis said.
"I've been telling myself that for a year."

The Rockies' run came with no outs in the sixth. Holliday and
Mohr singled to start the inning, and Desi Relaford followed with a
ground ball up the middle that was fielded by shortstop Wilson.
Wilson forced Mohr at second, but his throw to first bounced and
struck Ward in the face, allowing Holliday to score from third.

"Duke was as advertised," Hurdle said. "He was very efficient
for a young pitcher."

Game notes
Ward's RBI in the first inning was his first since July 3
... The Rockies have been outscored 36-4 in the first inning on the
road this season ... Bay's homer was just his fifth at PNC Park
this season. ... Duke's scoreless streak was the longest by a
Pittsburgh pitcher since Kip Wells went 22 1/3 innings in 2002 ...
Colorado has lost seven consecutive series to the Pirates since May
2002. ... Relaford snapped an 0-for-33 slump with an eighth-inning
single.