Sheets' gem helps Brewers split twinbill with Pirates

PITTSBURGH -- Ben Sheets kept getting better and better, and
pretty soon he was approaching perfection.

Sheets retired the first 18 batters before Chris Duffy led off
the seventh inning with a single, and the Milwaukee Brewers beat
the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-1 Wednesday to split a doubleheader.

"Things were going good. I ain't going to lie. It definitely
crossed my mind," Sheets said.

"If it's your day, it's going to be your day, no matter what
you do. I had a good day," he said.

In the opener, Freddy Sanchez got three hits and Ian Snell
struck out 10 as Pittsburgh won 6-3.

Sheets (5-6) gave up two hits and struck out 10 in eight
innings. He did not walk a batter. One pitch after Duffy singled,
Sheets picked him off first base.

"We got into the seventh inning and I started thinking, 'He's
got a real shot at a no-hitter here with his stuff,"' Brewers
manager Ned Yost said. "The first inning, the first couple of
hitters he was just OK. And then all of a sudden, it just clicked
for him and he started getting stronger and stronger and stronger.
He just had really good stuff today: Good breaking ball, real good
fastball, really good changeup, spotting well."

There has not been a perfect game in the majors since Randy Johnson pitched one for Arizona at Atlanta on May 18, 2004.

While Sheets was trying to do it at PNC Park, Freddy Garcia of the Chicago White Sox was taking a perfect-game try into the seventh inning at Anaheim against the Angels. Moments after Duffy's hit, Adam Kennedy singled with two outs in the eighth for the Angels.

Geoff Jenkins and Prince Fielder homered as the Brewers won for only the second time in their last seven games and fourth time in
their last 19.

"[Sheets] was outstanding today," Fielder said. "He pitched
great. Both the hits he gave up weren't really bad pitches, there
was just better hitting that time."

Francisco Cordero pitched the ninth for his 12th save in as many
chances since being acquired by the Brewers July 28.

Dating to his last start against Pittsburgh July 25, Sheets
retired 32 Pirates in a row. He sent down the final 14 batters he
faced in a 6-1 Pirates' win in Sheets' first game after missing
almost two months because of tendinitis in his right shoulder.

"Seeing him perform like that and pitch like he did today, that
was fun to be part of," said catcher Mike Rivera, credited by
Sheets with calling a good game.

"It's a sign that the old Ben is here again and that's what we
need. Today he was great with all of his pitches. His fastball was
up to 96 [mph] and he was kind of down with his fastball and he
showed that he is getting better and stronger every day," he said.

Sheets' gem was in front of an announced crowd of 11,627 -- but
far fewer than that witnessed it. The matchup two of the National
League's four worst teams on a chilly and drizzly afternoon had
what appeared to be less than 1,000 fans on hand by the time his
perfect-game bid reached the sixth inning.

Milwaukee has never had a perfect game in its 38-season history.
The Brewers' only no-hitter was by Juan Nieves April 15, 1987.

"You certainly want to try to win both ends of it, but there is
nothing to be ashamed of with the effort we gave today all day
long," Pirates manager Jim Tracy said. "Every once in a while,
you take your cap off and tip it. I don't know if I've seen Ben
Sheets any better than we saw today for eight innings.

Ryan Doumit homered in the Pirates' eighth.

Shawn Chacon (1-3) gave up five hits in seven innings.

"I got beat with two solo home runs," Chacon said. "Most days
out, you pitch seven innings and give up two solo homers, you're
not going to lose, so I'm happy with the way I pitched. It's tough
that we lost, but Sheets was dominant today. Real dominant."

Sanchez recorded his 47th
double in the opener, which tied the team record for right-handed batters set by
Adam Comorosky in 1930.

Sanchez went 0-for-3 in the second game, dropping his average
back to .340. He began the day at .339, leading the NL in hitting
by a fraction of a point over Florida's Miguel Cabrera.

Ronny Paulino drove in three runs, Jason Bay reached base four
times and Duffy scored twice for the Pirates. Fielder had
three hits and drove in two runs for Milwaukee.

Snell (13-10) tied his career high for strikeouts, and allowed
six hits in seven innings. It was the third time he fanned 10 this

Salomon Torres worked the ninth for his seventh save -- all
coming in the Pirates' last seven victories.

After Fielder hit an RBI double in the first, the Pirates took
the lead for good in third with three runs off Chris Capuano
(11-11). Sanchez had a sacrifice fly, Paulino doubled home a run
and Jose Castillo had a sacrifice fly.

Capuano has lost three consecutive starts and has won only once
since July 6, going 1-7 in that time.

"You don't want to leave out of here losing a doubleheader,"
Yost said. "It's huge to battle back and win that last game."

Game notes
The Pirates won the season series with the Brewers, 9-7.
... Sheets is 6-7 with a 2.75 ERA against Pittsburgh in 18 career
starts. ... Sheets struck out at least 10 for the 13th time in his