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Pirates Win - Lose Starter


Everything went wrong for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Except the final score.

Their top starter, Todd Ritchie, injured his right shoulder. Two batters grounded into double plays without vacating the batter's box. A reliever yielded a run not with a bad pitch, but by not throwing one at all.

Somehow, they beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-4 Friday night, even if apologies rather than congratulations seemed in order afterward.
Ritchie apologized for getting hurt just as the Pirates seem to have a legitimate shot at their first winning season since 1992. Manager Gene Lamont regretted that Brant Brown didn't run out a double play. And Brian Giles excused himself for hitting two more home runs, giving him 28.

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  • "I'm not a power guy. I hit the balls in the gaps and use the whole field," Giles said. "But I do seem to hit homers in bunches. I feel very comfortable right now."

    The Pirates wish that Ritchie did.

    After yielding consecutive first-inning home runs to Jay Bell and Luis Gonzalez, Ritchie settled down to retire 14 in a row. That's why some of the 23,934 fans seemed surprised when Lamont lifted him following Erubiel Durazo's single and Steve Finley's double in the seventh.

    But Lamont had a reason: a sore right shoulder that will cause Ritchie to miss at least one start.

    "You're real leery when a pitcher says something is bothering him. Usually, they don't say anything," Lamont said. "Take my word, it's eal."

    Ritchie (12-8) leads the Pirates in victories, despite not starting in the majors before this season.

    "I'm not used to me throwing so much," he said. "I'm going to be cautious about it. I need to shut it down for a while and try to get it right."

    Or, just like Todd Stottlemyre of Arizona did for three months.

    His season seemed to be over when he was diagnosed with a partially torn rotator cuff following a May 17 start against the Giants. But, rather than undergoing season-ending surgery, he began an extensive and exhaustive rehabilitation program.

    His results 4 2-3 innings, seven hits, five runs weren't exceptional. Except to the people who watched him spend months building back his arm strength.

    "I played with Todd a long time in Toronto, and he's a gamer," Ed Sprague of the Pirates said. "If anybody would try to come back from that injury and pitch in the same year, it's him. If anyone would be successful trying to do it, it would be him."

    The right-hander reached the low 90-mph range consistently and struck out five, but allowed five extra-base hits, including run-scoring doubles by Sprague and Brown in a go-ahead, two-run fourth.

    Stottlemyre (4-2) insisted he wasn't unhappy with the results.

    "The Pirates have been beating some good clubs, so I'm not ashamed," Stottlemyre said. "Am I disappointed? Yeah, a little, for myself."

    Lamont was disappointed Brown didn't run out a bunt back to the mound in the sixth that became a double play. Two innings later, Keith Osik never left the batter's box on a double play grounder that he thought had struck his left shoe.

    Osik argued his shoe was smudged with pine tar that had transferred from his bat to the ball. Home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi showed the ball to first-base umpire Eric Gregg and second-base umpire Brian Gorman, but they upheld the call.

    "It was a tough call for the umpire," Lamont said. "I don't know if I've ever heard of a call like that."

    An equally bizarre play occurred the inning before. Pirates reliever Marc Willkins held onto the ball as he stumbled on a delivery to pinch-hitter Rob Ryan, drawing a run-scoring balk that cut the Pirates' lead to 5-4.

    But Wilkins recovered to get the next two outs, and Jose Silva and Mike Williams followed a scoreless inning apiece. Williams earned his 20th save in 24 chances.

    "We had a couple of shots, but their bullpen did a good job," Diamondbacks manager Buck Showalter said.

    Note

  • The Diamondbacks had won 13 of 15 road games, including five in a row. .. Four Diamondbacks have at least 20 homers: Bell (30), Matt Williams (29, Steve Finley (25) and Gonzalez (20). .. Both teams wore futuristic uniforms.
  • Adrian Brown of the Pirates was 0-for-22 until he doubled off Dan Plesac in the seventh.
  • The victory was the Pirates' first against Arizona in Three Rivers Stadium. The Diamondbacks were 3-0 there last season.
  • The game was the first between the teams this season.
  • The Pirates had 11 hits after getting one in Cincinnati on Thursday night.
  • Stottlemyre has lost his last four decisions to Pittsburgh.
  • The Diamondbacks have 159 homers, as many as they hit in their inaugural season last year.
  • Pirates catcher Joe Oliver suffered a mild concussion when struck by Ryan's backswing and probably won't play tonight.

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

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