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Dessens loses perfect game, then loses game

9/11/2002

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Gookie Dawkins' errant throw ended Elmer
Dessens' perfect game in the seventh. Two batters later, the
no-hitter and the lead were gone, too.

The right-hander retired 19 consecutive batters before Dawkins
threw into the Cincinnati Reds' dugout on Jack Wilson's grounder in
the seventh. One out later, Aramis Ramirez hit a two-run homer that
sent the Pittsburgh Pirates on to a 4-1 victory Wednesday.

Craig Wilson added another two-run homer in the inning off
Dessens (7-8), who didn't make a bad pitch until he got into the
seventh.

"I've never been in that situation,'' Dessens said.
"Everything was working good. I tried to stay back and stay down,
but I made a mistake and he hit it out.''

The Pirates avoided a three-game sweep before a crowd of 14,514
that started the afternoon by remembering the terrorist attacks,
then got caught up in Dessens' quest for perfection.

Dessens had only one close call through the first six innings.
Craig Wilson hit a drive to left that landed just foul in the
fifth, then lined out to second baseman Todd Walker, who made a
backhand catch to end the inning.

Dawkins, who was called up from the minors following Monday
night's game, cleanly fielded Jack Wilson's grounder with one out
in the seventh, then sailed his throw into the Reds' dugout.

"It just got away from me,'' Dawkins said. "I was trying to
hurry it up, but I knew I had more time. Everybody knows it's a
routine thing. You've got to make the play, plain and simple. As
soon as I released it, I knew it was in the dugout.''

Brian Giles flied out, and Ramirez followed with his 15th homer
to left -- a shot that easily cleared the wall. Rob Mackowiak then
hit a grounder that glanced off the first-base bag for a single,
and Craig Wilson hit his 15th homer to left.

Left-hander Ron Villone (3-6) pitched 1 1-3 hitless innings in
relief of Kris Benson, who allowed three hits in the first five
innings and struck out six. Mike Williams struck out the side in
the ninth for his 41st save in 44 chances, helping Pittsburgh avoid
a three-game sweep.

Before the game, which drew the largest crowd of the three-game
series, the teams observed the one-year anniversary of the
terrorist attacks.

Pirates catcher Keith Osik, who lives on Long Island, was at New
York's LaGuardia Airport last Sept. 11, waiting to catch a flight
back to Pittsburgh after spending an off day at home. It took him
five days to rejoin the team.

"It still hurts for people,'' Osik said. "It was definitely a
different day than playing just a regular day game. I was glad I
was playing, actually. It puts this in perspective. We're baseball
players. This is what do. We have to keep working.''

Pregame ceremonies at the first game of the day in the major
leagues included religious and patriotic music by a
bagpipe-and-drum corps, appearances by representatives of the Army,
Navy, Marines, and National Guard, as well as local police and fire
department officers, dispatchers and members of the American Red
Cross.

A letter from President Bush was read by the public-address
announcer. Andy Moskal, 14, the son of a victim of the attacks on
the World Trade Center, threw a ceremonial first pitch to Reds
captain Barry Larkin.

Moskal's father, William, was an official with Marsh USA Inc.
and a member of the safety team at the Great American Ball Park
construction site. Lorraine Moskal, Andy's mother, also was on
hand.

Workers at the neighboring ballpark construction site watched
the ceremonies, as did the Reds and Pirates, who stood in front of
their dugouts before the managers and starting lineups were
introduced.

"It was real touching,'' said Villone, a New Jersey native and
resident. "You look up and reflect on what you're really doing. It
took a second for the bagpipes to leave my head. Bagpipes touch the
deepest emotions. The silence was there, but the emotions were
loud.''

Game notes
Villone's win was his first in 33 relief appearances ...
Villone has retired 14 consecutive batters ... The Pirates have
been held hitless through six innings four times this season. ...
Pittsburgh's four-run seventh snapped a streak of 15 consecutive
scoreless innings ... Dessens has lost his last three decisions and
hasn't won since July 21, a stretch that includes 20 days on the
disabled list.