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Pirates Spoil Sosa Day


Warren Morris' home run and Todd Ritchie's latest strong start got the Pittsburgh Pirates' minds off Jason Kendall and back on baseball.

Morris hit a three-run homer, Ritchie pitched eight effective innings to continue his surprising season, and the Pirates spoiled Sammy Sosa Day by beating the Chicago Cubs 6-1 Tuesday night.

Kevin Young added a two-run homer in the Pirates' first victory since Kendall, their best player and clubhouse leader, tore up his right ankle Sunday and was lost for the season.

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Game Summary

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  • "His personality is so huge, we're thinking about taping him insulting everybody and playing it in the clubhouse every day," Al Martin said. "We really miss him. It's almost been like someday died."

    "But to see him now, sitting in the hospital and laughing, makes it a lot better. We know now his heart's still pumping and we have to go on."

    The Pirates stranded only two runners after leaving 15 on base in a 5-2 loss to the Cubs on Monday.

    "We know we're not going to be as good offensively without Jason, so we have to take advantage of every opportunity," manager Gene Lamont said. "But we know we can win without Jason."

    Ritchie (8-6), in the minors when the season began, scattered seven hits to tie Jason Schmidt for the team lead in victories and halt Pittsburgh's four-game losing streak.

    "Ritchie knows how to pitch," Sosa said. "He threw the right pitch in the right situation."

    Sosa, voted to his third All-Star game a few hours after the Pittsburgh City Council proclaimed a day in his honor, hit a sacrifice fly while going 1-for-3.

    The Cubs have lost five of six and have gone a month since June 7-8 without winning consecutive games.

    Morris, the Pirates' first legitimate rookie of the year contender in years, helped extend Cubs starter Steve Trachsel's losing streak to eight by homering to finish the Pirates' four-run first. Brian Giles also hit a sacrifice fly.

    It was a familiar start for Trachsel (2-12), who was pounded for 33 runs in 19 innings in his revious five starts. His losing streak is the longest by a Cubs pitcher since Shawn Boskie also lost eight straight in 1992.

    Trachsel is on pace to become the majors' first 20-game loser since Brian Kingman (8-20) of Oakland in 1980.

    "The record is the record. I don't even look at it," Trachsel said. "I don't look at my (6.73) ERA, either. I just ask myself, `Did I do the job? Did I give us a chance to win?' I think I did."

    Not that it's all that easy for the Cubs to bounce back from a 4-1 deficit. They haven't taken the initial lead and held on to win since June 3, a span of 30 games.

    Trachsel settled down to shut out Pittsburgh on three hits over the next five innings, but Ritchie was even better while striking out five and walking two. He has allowed three runs in 15 innings in winning his last two starts.

    Before moving into the Pirates' rotation in mid-April, Ritchie's previous 57 career appearances came in relief for Minnesota.

    "All I wanted was a chance to start and I'm grateful to Pittsburgh for giving me that chance," Ritchie said. "I know every five days I'm going to get the ball, and they've shown a lot of confidence in me."

    Young, in a 4-for-27 slump, hit his 10th homer, in the eighth off Terry Adams.

    Notes:

  • Sosa, who wears No. 21 in honor of former Pirates star Roberto Clemente, was honored by City Council for his humanitarian work with children.
  • Martin was ejected by home plate umpire Wally Bell after striking out in the eighth.
  • Trachsel has not won since May 15.
  • Sosa needs one homer by Sunday to match the 33 he hit before the All-Star break last season.
  • Sosa is 2-for-18 (.111) with one homer against Pittsburgh this season.
  • The Pirates are 22-8 when their starter pitches at least six innings.
  • The Pirates have never had a rookie of the year. Morris is hitting .297 with nine homers and 43 RBIs.
  • A 36-minute rain delay in the first inning cooled the temperature from the low 90s into the low 80s.
  • Tuesday's game was utilityman John Wehner's first in nine major league seasons in which Jim Leyland didn't manage. Wehner played for Leyland in Pittsburgh from 1991-96 and in Florida in 1997-98. He joined the Pirates from Triple-A Nashville before the game.

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

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