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First-year players shine after phenom Day exits hurt

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Unbeaten rookie Zach Duke has given the
Pittsburgh Pirates nothing but excellent starts since being called
up last month. This time he gave them a big scare.

Duke pitched two shutout innings before spraining his left ankle
running the bases, and the Pirates withstood his injury by getting
big nights from three other first-year players to beat the St.
Louis Cardinals 10-0 on Tuesday night.

Nate McLouth, one of four rookies in Pittsburgh's increasingly
young lineup, hit his first career homer -- a two-run drive off the
slumping Jason Marquis -- and Ty Wigginton had a three-run triple in
his first Pirates at-bat in 2½ months. Chris Duffy and Ryan Doumit,
the other two rookies, each reached base three times and scored a
combined five runs.

With Duke off to the first 6-0 start by a rookie starting
pitcher in Pirates history, the last thing the left-hander wanted
was to get hurt. But X-rays proved negative, and he is expected to
miss only one start at the most.

"I was feeling good and we're ahead 4-0 and I'm thinking, `Just
go out there and throw strikes,' and then that happens," Duke
said. "You never want to come out with the lead, but there's
nothing broken."

It was the second injury in as many nights for the Pirates, who
lost promising second baseman Jose Castillo for the rest of the
season Monday with a sprained left knee ligament.

"You're thinking, `Not again," shortstop Jack Wilson said of
Duke's injury. "But the good thing it isn't serious."

The Cardinals got an injury scare of their own when outfielder
So Taguchi was hit on the back of his left hand by a fastball from
Ryan Vogelsong in the ninth. X-rays were negative after what
manager Tony La Russa called "a very scary" moment, and Taguchi
may need only a day or two off.

"It's OK," he said. "It's probably going to be a sore hand
tomorrow but, after that, it's probably OK."

Luckily for the Pirates, they can say the same thing about Duke.

Duke (6-0, 1.81 ERA) singled to start the second inning for his
second career hit and advanced on Duffy's single. But Duke was
trapped off second on McLouth's line drive that shortstop David
Eckstein intentionally dropped and, trying to decide whether to
head for third or go back to second, he was tagged out scrambling
back to second.

"He was trying to get back to the bag and he slid a little
late," general manager Dave Littlefield said.

Some fans booed as Salomon Torres warmed up to replace Duke,
apparently believing the Pirates had intentionally removed Duke.
The day before, manager Lloyd McClendon said it hadn't been decided
how long the 22-year-old Duke would stay in the rotation because he
has already pitched more innings than in any other pro season.

Torres (4-4) followed Duke with 3 2-3 shutout innings, despite
giving up St. Louis' first three hits of the game in the sixth, and
Rick White pitched 1 1-3 innings. John Grabow and Vogelsong
finished with a scoreless inning each to complete the five-hitter
and Pittsburgh's 11th shutout -- all but three with multiple
pitchers -- and the sixth against St. Louis.

The Cardinals were 3-0 in Pittsburgh and 8-2 against the Pirates
this season, but couldn't overcome yet another poor start by
Marquis (9-13), who lost his seventh straight. Marquis gave up
eight hits and seven runs in three-plus innings and is 1-9 since he
was 8-3.

"If I had the answer, I would have done it two months ago,"
Marquis said. "You've got to go out there and keep pitching and be
aggressive and try not to lose confidence and believe in
yourself."

Marquis allowed six of the first seven batters to reach base in
a four-run first that included Daryle Ward's sacrifice fly and
Wigginton's opposite-field triple in his first at-bat since June 5.
He was the Pirates' opening day third baseman, but was optioned to
Triple-A Indianapolis after hitting only .204 in 35 games.
Wigginton was recalled after Monday's game to replace Castillo.

Game notes
OF Larry Walker (herniated disc) didn't start as La Russa
plans to use him on a day-on, day-off basis this week. ... La Russa
remains one victory from tying Sparky Anderson for third place in
managing victories with 2,194. ... Pirates rookie 1B Brad Eldred
didn't start despite having five homers in eight games, but struck
out against reliever Cal Eldred as a pinch hitter. ... The
Cardinals have only three homers in eight games and seven in 15.
... Marquis' losing streak is St. Louis' longest since Jose Jimenez
dropped seven straight in 1999. ... Duke also had another of his 10
starts shortened to two innings because of a long rain delay.