PITTSBURGH (AP) -- In a game that quickly changed from a
pitchers' duel to a late-inning home run derby, the Pittsburgh
Pirates won it on a hit by their least-used player.
Backup catcher Keith Osik's first pinch hit of the season drove
in the winning run off Cubs closer Antonio Alfonseca in the 10th
and the Pirates overcame another strong start by prospect Mark
Prior to beat Chicago 3-2 Monday night.
''I'd rather hit in those situations, because a lot of my
at-bats come when the game's been decided,'' said Osik, the last
remaining position player on the Pirates' bench. ''I was trying to
be patient and put a good swing on the ball, because he's tough to
Osik, batting .158 and 0-for-6 as a pinch-hitter, then singled
sharply into left on a 3-2 pitch by Alfonseca (0-1) as the Pirates
won for only the second time in seven games and the Cubs lost for
the second time in seven. They couldn't hold a 5-1 lead in losing
7-5 Sunday to Houston.
The Pirates led 1-0 entering the eighth and 2-1 going into the
ninth, but the Cubs tied it each time on leadoff homers -- by Corey
Patterson in the eighth off Mike Fetters and Bobby Hill off Mike
Williams (1-0) in the ninth.
''It was a roller coaster there for a few innings, but at least
we got off it last,'' Williams said.
Until Monday, the Pirates were 15-for-15 in save opportunities,
all by Williams.
Hill's second homer prevented Cubs reliever Juan Cruz's record
from going to 1-8. Cruz was in line for the loss after allowing
Chad Hermansen's go-ahead homer in the eighth, a leadoff drive
estimated at 444 feet that was his fourth since he was activated
from the disabled list May 11.
Hermansen, the center fielder, also took a possible extra-base
hit away from Chris Stynes in the third by extending his glove to
make the catch just before running into the wall.
Prior, the No. 2 pick in last year's draft and one of the
majors' most ballyhooed pitching prospects in years, was more
effective than he was in beating the Pirates 7-4 in his debut
Wednesday, but lacked the run support.
''I felt a lot more comfortable than I did Wednesday, just being
around the team for a few days,'' he said.
Reaching as high as 99 mph on the radar gun, he struck out seven
-- three fewer than his debut -- but yielded only three hits in six
innings and went to his overpowering fastball when he needed big
''I felt like I threw it well,'' Prior said. ''I was moving my
fastball in and out, and I felt like I had command of it.
Unfortunately, we didn't get the outcome we needed.''
The Pirates scratched out their only run against Prior in the
second when Rob Mackowiak was hit by a pitch, stole second and
scored on Craig Wilson's opposite-field single to right with two
outs. That 1-0 lead held up until Patterson homered.
''We had many opportunities to score and give him a chance to
win,'' Cubs manager Don Baylor said. ''It was there, many, many
But as good as Prior was, Pirates left-hander Dave Williams
(3-5) -- in danger of being demoted to the minors with one more poor
start -- was better, shutting out the Cubs on three hits over 5 2-3
Dave Williams, roughed up for 19 earned runs in 20 2-3 innings
over five straight winless starts, left with two on and two outs in
the sixth. Sean Lowe got Moises Alou to pop up, then was bailed out
of his own two-on, one-out jam by Scott Sauerbeck in the seventh.
''I didn't put any extra pressure on myself,'' Dave Williams
said. ''But you're aware that if you can't do it, obviously they'll
get somebody else.''
After Patterson homered, the Cubs appeared ready to go ahead
when Fetters walked Sammy Sosa and Fred McGriff doubled, putting
runners on second and third with none out. But Alou again couldn't
get the run home, bouncing out to the mound, before Alex Gonzalez
lined out and Joe Girardi bounced out.
''We should have hit better than we did, but to see the way we
came back late in the game was good,'' Alou said.
Pirates fans apparently didn't warm to the idea of playing
a holiday game at night; the attendance was a dismal 16,215. ... As
manager Lloyd McClendon tries to push a low-scoring offense, two
more Pirates were thrown out easily trying to steal. They are only
31-of-57 in steal attempts despite Mackowiak's successful attempt.
... It was the Pirates' first extra-inning game. The Cubs are 2-1
in extra innings.