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Pirates' Nunez scores winning run on wild pitch

6/22/2003

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- In a season in which very little has gone right for them, the Pittsburgh Pirates have discovered a sure way of winning: just get it to the 15th inning.

Abraham Nunez tripled and scored on Dan Miceli's wild pitch and
the Pirates rallied three times to beat the Cleveland Indians 7-6
Saturday -- the teams' second 15-inning game in as many nights.

The last time two teams played consecutive 15-inning games was
June 18-19, 1996, when the Marlins and Giants did it.

"To play 15 innings on back-to-back days, that's pretty
unbelievable,'' Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said. "To win both
of those games makes it even more unbelievable. I'm pretty much
numb right now. The last two nights have been a blur.''

The Pirates trailed 3-0 and 5-1 before winning their sixth in
seven games. On Friday, they were behind 3-0 before winning 5-4 on
Randall Simon's 15th-inning homer in a rain-delayed game that
didn't end until 1:37 a.m. ET.

Simon learned Saturday he homered with torn ligaments in his
right hand and must go on the 15-day disabled list.

"It's like we played a doubleheader last night and a
doubleheader tonight,'' Pirates pitcher Julian Tavarez said. "I
wish they'd let us sleep tomorrow until a half-hour before the game
and then let us take the field when they're playing the national
anthem.''

The Pirates won it after Nunez, batting just .210, tripled down
the right field line to start the 15th against Miceli (1-1), the Indians' sixth pitcher. Kenny Lofton was intentionally walked.

Miceli's 1-2 pitch to Jason Kendall then bounced over catcher
Josh Bard, who had no play as Nunez scored easily.

"They were shading me to right-center and I knew coming out of
the box I had a shot at three,'' Nunez said of his triple. "Once I
got to second I turned it on because the closer I got to home
plate, the better it would be.''

Except for the Indians, who seemed in disbelief after playing 30
innings in two nights but not winning either time.

"We didn't have a whole lot of luck either night,'' said
manager Eric Wedge, whose team is 1-7 in extra innings. "We've got
to start feeling more comfortable and doing a better job
offensively once we get it to extra innings.''

Scott Sauerbeck (2-4) pitched a scoreless 15th to win it after
Tavarez pitched five hitless relief innings, giving him 6 1/3
hitless innings over the two games.

The Indians squandered leads of 3-0 and 5-1, went ahead 6-5 on
Milton Bradley's RBI single in the top of the ninth, then saw the
Pirates tie it on consecutive two-out errors by shortstop John
McDonald and third baseman Casey Blake in the bottom of the ninth.

McDonald fumbled Reggie Sanders' grounder and Blake misplayed
Matt Stairs' grounder to score Aramis Ramirez, who doubled with two
outs for his third hit.

"Those are the two guys you want the ball hit to,'' Wedge said.
"It just didn't happen for us. There were some real tough plays
for us. The ball just didn't bounce our way -- again.''

It did for the Pirates, who caught the break of the game when
Blake's line drive off Tavarez's right knee ricocheted directly to
first baseman Craig Wilson for the third out in the 13th. The
Indians had two runners on at the time.

"If that ball goes through, it's two runs,'' Wedge said.

The McDonald misplay contrasted with Pirates left fielder Brian
Giles' homer-saving catch in the eighth on Brandon Phillips' long
drive with one on. Giles pushed off the fence with his foot to
elevate himself, stretched his glove over the 6-foot fence and
pulled the ball back from the second row of the stands.

The Pirates then tied it on Sanders' leadoff homer in their half
of the eighth.

Jody Gerut and Bradley each drove in two runs as the Indians
scored three times in the first and twice more in the fifth to take
their 5-1 lead against Kris Benson. Bradley finished with three
hits and three RBI.

Benson gave up seven hits and five runs in five innings after
sitting out a start to work on his mechanics. He has allowed 20
earned runs and 27 hits in 13 2/3 innings in his last three Pirates
starts.

The Pirates cut into the lead on Kendall's run-scoring single in
the fifth and Ramirez's seventh homer, his fifth in 11 games, an
inning later. Kendall also had a run-scoring grounder, and Giles
had an RBI single in the seventh off David Riske after Cleveland
reliever Jason Boyd was ejected for bumping and yelling at umpire
Dana DeMuth.

Game notes
The game ended at 12:06 a.m. ET. ... The Pirates are 3-3
in extra innings. ... The crowd of 36,856 included numerous Indians
fans and was the Pirates' first sellout of the season at PNC Park.
... The Pirates are 5-7 against AL teams; the Indians are 3-10 in
interleague play. ... Giles has reached base in 30 consecutive
games. ... The Pirates have played 57 innings at home in four days,
starting with Wednesday's doubleheader against Montreal.