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Pinch-Hit HR Punches Pirates

Preston Wilson's back injury prevents him from doing a few things. Luckily for the Florida Marlins, swinging a bat isn't one of them.

Wilson returned from two days of back treatments and hit a two-run, pinch-hit homer in the eighth inning to lift the Marlins over the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-7 Friday night.

"The back doesn't bother me when I swing the bat," Wilson said.

That became obvious when he drilled Greg Hansell's 2-2 changeup over the left-field wall to put the Marlins ahead, after once trailing 5-0.

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  • "He's not ready to play in the field yet because it still bothers him when he has to bend over," Marlins manager John Boles said. "But it doesn't bother him to bat and that's why he got the opportunity there."

    The win came a day after the Marlins ended a series in Philadelphia that saw them lost the last two games by scores of 9-4 and 12-1. Boles held a meeting and told his team that he saw some players visibly sagging and that he wouldn't tolerate it.

    "It was the body language," Boles said. "It wasn't everybody, but it was enough guys that I felt I had to say we weren't going to put up with that. This is the `big boy' world up here. If you're not tough enough, we'll find someplace else for you. Even if he hadn't won this game, it would have been a good night because we battled back."

    It was a tough loss for the Pirates, whose bullpen lost a game for the third time in nine games. Pittsburgh relievers have allowed 15 earned runs in the last 19 innings.

    "We're not pitching well out of the bullpen right now," manager Gene Lamont said. "We've pitched well out of there most of the year and we will again. They're just going through a tough time right now."

    Wilson's 1th homer was his team-record third as a pinch hitter.

    Wilson was sent to Florida on Wednesday morning to have tests on his lower back. He had been bothered by spasms and had therapy Wednesday and Thursday.

    Hansell (1-1) gave up a single to Mike Lowell to start the eighth and Wilson homered.

    Wilson batted for Brian Edmondson (4-4), who got the win despite issuing a bases-loaded walk that gave the Pirates a 7-6 lead in the seventh.

    Abraham Nunez led off the seventh with a bunt single, Brian Giles singled and Kevin Young walked. After Ed Sprague struck out on three pitches, Warren Morris walked.

    Antonio Alfonseca pitched the ninth for his eighth save. He has converted eight consecutive opportunities.

    "I'm not saying he's Dennis Eckersley in his prime, but 8-for-8 is pretty good," Boles said. "It's perfect."

    The Marlins, who fell behind 4-0 in the first inning, scored three in the sixth and three more in the seventh to tie it at 6.

    Mark Kotsay hit a two-run triple in the sixth and Kevin Millar hit a sacrifice fly. Those runs came against Pirates starter Pete Schourek.

    In the seventh, reliever Marc Wilkins gave up a one-out double to pinch-hitter Chris Clapinski, then allowed consecutive singles to Alex Gonzalez, Bruce Aven and Millar. The tying run scored when Kotsay singled off Scott Sauerbeck.

    The Pirates got four consecutive singles in the first against Dennis Springer. They also were helped by second baseman Luis Castillo's throwing error.

    Giles had a sacrifice fly in the fifth and Joe Oliver singled in a run in the sixth.


  • Kurt Abbott, Andre Dawson and Aven all had two pinch-hit homers for the Marlins.
  • Schourek moved back into the rotation when Jose Silva was demoted to the bullpen.
  • Sidelined Pirates C Jason Kendall was in the clubhouse before the game, sitting at his locker with his injured right ankle propped up. He will be fitted for a walking cast next week, which should improve his spirits. "I can't drive, can't do anything," he said. "I sit in my recliner and watch games. I'm useless right now."
  • After the game, the Pirates put Jason Christiansen, their top left-handed reliever, on the disabled list with lower back inflammation. They recalled lefty Jimmy Anderson from Triple-A Nashville to take his place.

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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