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Rueter, Giants Pummel Pirates

Kirk Rueter doesn't have to worry about coming out of San Francisco's rotation or, maybe even better for the Giants, their batting order.

Rueter beat the Pittsburgh Pirates as much with his bat as with his arm, driving in four runs with three hits to back his two-run pitching as the Giants cruised to a 10-2 victory Thursday.

Bill Mueller and Jeff Kent homered as the Giants won three of four in the series to increase their NL West lead over idle Arizona to three games.

The last time the Giants entered September with the NL West lead, a 4 1/2-game edge over Atlanta in 1993, they wound up second by a game despite winning 103 games.

"I don't think anybody is going to change their approach now that it's September," Rueter said. "This is a team that stays on an even keel. We know we have 30 left and we know we play eight of the last 11 against Arizona. We just want to stay where we are."

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  • Just as Rueter will stay where he is: The rotation. There was speculation he might move into the bullpen after failing to last past the fifth in three consecutive starts, giving up 18 runs in 12 1-3 innings.

    "Now don't have to answer any questions about whether he's going to stay in the rotation," manager Dusty Baker said. "He wasn't coming out, but this still was a big game for him. This is usually his time of the year and, hopefully, he can reel off four or five in a row."

    Rueter is 17-6 in September and October despite going 2-3 last season.

    "I like pitching in September," Rueter said. "I've been on some good teams in Montreal and San Francisco where the games mean something in September."

    The Pirates haven't hav many meaningful games since April. Their eighth loss in 10 games finished a miserable August (8-21) for the team with the majors' worst record (53-79).

    With manager Gene Lamont almost certain to be fired when the season ends, the Pirates fell a remarkable 52 games under .500 over the last two calendar years. They lost 25 of their final 30 in 1998 and were 78-84 last season.

    "Just when you think it's as bad as it can get ...," said John Vander Wal, who hit his 16th career pinch-hit homer. "Kirk's a heck of a pitcher, but when he drives in runs, too ... it can't get any lower."

    The Giants didn't need long to get to Jose Silva (8-9), who allowed eight runs on 10 hits in 3 2-3 innings while failing to last five innings for the fifth time in six starts.

    Rueter, a .170 hitter with only one RBI in 47 at-bats this season entering the game, followed center fielder Adrian Brown's run-scoring throwing error in the second with a two-run double that made it 3-0. Marvin Benard and Mueller then singled in runs.

    Kent led off the third with his 29th homer, giving him 107 RBIs. In the fourth, Rueter singled for his second hit and scored on Mueller's eighth homer. Rueter added another two-run double, off Bronson Arroyo in the fifth.

    Mueller also had three hits as the Giants had 13 hits even without Barry Bonds, Ellis Burks and Rich Aurilia, who took the day off.

    Rueter (9-9) lost his shutout on Emil Brown's run-scoring single in the sixth. He pitched seven innings, giving up seven hits and two runs while walking one and striking out none.

    Giants right fielder Armando Rios left the game after running into a bullpen gate making a backhanded catch of Abraham Nunez's foul fly ball in the sixth. He lay on the warning track for several minutes, but said later he had only a sore left arm and left knee.

    Vander Wal tied Jerry Lynch for sixth place with 116 career pinch-hits by homering in the seventh, his third pinch-hit homer this season.

    No matter, the Pirates still can't see daylight. They are 3-15 in afternoon home day games, losing 11 in a row, and were outscored 30-7 in three day games during a just-completed 1-6 homestad.

    "It seems that right now whenever we make a bad pitch or have a bad at-bat, it costs us," Jason Kendall said. "We've got a month left in the season and we've got to make something positive of it."

    Notes

  • The Pirates are 12-26 against the NL West, with upcoming series in San Diego and Los Angeles.
  • Silva has allowed 13 runs on 19 hits in 7 2-3 innings in his last two starts.
  • The Giants were 19-10 in August and have won 12 of 17.
  • Pirates 3B Enrique Wilson sprained his right ankle sliding into second base and was lifted after the eighth inning. His status for Friday's game in San Diego is uncertain.

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