PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Back in April, this is how the Pittsburgh
Pirates envisioned the whole season going -- Aramis Ramirez and
Brian Giles getting big hits and Josh Fogg setting up the bullpen
with strong pitching.
Fogg pitched six scoreless innings, Giles and Ramirez homered
and Mike Williams got his 40th save as the Pirates beat the Florida
Marlins 4-1 Saturday night. Ramirez, waiting until the final month of the season to begin
hitting the way he did last season, was 3-for-4 with two RBI against Nate Robertson (0-1) in the left-hander's major league
debut. The Pirates won their 63rd game, one more than they did a year
ago while going 62-100. They still have 20 games remaining. ''You've got to start somewhere, and we want to finish strong
and take something positive into the offseason,'' Williams said. Fogg (12-11), a winner only twice in his 11 most recent starts,
was in command from the beginning, limiting the Marlins to five
hits while not allowing a runner past second base. ''He's like the poor man's (Greg) Maddux,'' the Marlins' Kevin
Millar said. ''He throws four pitches for strikes and he competes.
That was a great trade the Pirates made, getting Kip Wells and that
guy. That guy is going to win a lot of games.'' Fogg, ending a four-game losing streak that dated to an Aug. 6
victory over Los Angeles, has the most victories by a Pirates
rookie since Mike Dunne went 13-6 in 1987. The right-hander started 5-1 as the Pirates stayed around first
place in the National League Central for a month, then faded after Ramirez's
offense fell off significantly following a mid-April ankle injury. ''Yeah, I'd like to finish with a winning record -- I was getting
tried of losing,'' Fogg said. ''My job is to give my team a chance
to win every time I pitch and I haven't been doing that.'' The Pirates, who beat the Marlins 11-0 Friday night, lost a
chance for their second consecutive shutout when Mike Lowell hit his
19th homer in the seventh off Brian Boehringer. Scott Sauerbeck followed Boehringer with a scoreless ninth, and
Williams became the third closer in the majors with 40 saves by
pitching the ninth. Williams has 40 saves in 43 opportunities and
trails only the Braves' John Smoltz (49) and the Dodgers' Eric
Gagne (48). ''I really didn't come into the season with a number,'' Williams
said. ''Sure, it's rewarding, but I wish we were winning more games
so I had some more opportunities.'' Robertson lasted 4 2/3 innings, giving up four runs and seven
hits. He allowed the first five batters he faced to reach base, but
got out of the first with only one run scoring on Ramirez's run-scoring single. ''I liked what I saw,'' Marlins manager Jeff Torborg said. ''He
didn't panic in that inning, and that could have knocked a lot of
veterans for a loop.'' Ramirez made it 2-0 in the third with his 14th homer, and Giles
hit his 34th following Jack Wilson's one-out single in the fifth.
Wilson had three hits a night after driving in a career-high four
runs. ''That pitch to Ramirez was down and in and a lot of guys would
have hit that ball on the ground,'' Torborg said. ''Ramirez hit it
about 10 miles.'' Ramirez, bothered most of the season by the slow-to-heal ankle
injury, is 19-for-45 (.422) with eight multihit games in his last
11 games. He has 61 RBI, barely half the 112 he drove in during a
breakthrough 34-homer season a year ago. ''He's starting to swing the bat better, and I don't think 75
RBI is out of the question for him,'' manager Lloyd McClendon
said. ''He can carry us for a while.''
Robertson pitched with glasses for the first time in his
pro career because his contacts were burning his eyes. ... Fogg had
lost his past three decisions at PNC Park, not winning there since
beating Milwaukee on July 3. ... The Pirates have won four in a row at home and six of seven since losing seven in a row. ... Pirates
pitchers have yielded four runs in their past 37 innings. ...
Williams is the first Pirates reliever with 40 saves in a season.
Before this season, the club record was 34 by Jim Gott in 1988. ...
Florida is 7-22 on the road since the All-Star break. ... The
Marlins have given up 14 homers in seven games this month. ...
Millar had two hits, running his hitting streak to 13 games -- 10
with multiple hits. ... Giles needs six homers to become the first
Pirates player to hit 40 since Willie Stargell had 44 in 1973. ...
The Pirates can sweep the three-game series Sunday, a week after
they were swept in three at Florida.