PITTSBURGH (AP) -- If the Pittsburgh Pirates had known they would
do so well after trading nearly all their top players, they might
have done it a lot earlier.
Jose Hernandez's bases-loaded single with two outs in the ninth
rallied Pittsburgh past the Atlanta Braves 6-5 Friday night, the
Pirates' season high-tying fourth straight victory.The Pirates haven't lost since trading star Brian Giles on
Tuesday, including a three-game sweep of the Marlins. They also
have dealt third baseman Aramis Ramirez, center fielder Kenny
Lofton, top starter Jeff Suppan and relievers Mike Williams and
Scott Sauerbeck over the last five weeks."It's different guys contributing every night," said Rob
Mackowiak, who hit a three-run homer off 18-game winner Russ Ortiz.
"I'm sure a lot of people thought we'd struggle to win many games
the rest of the season after trading Brian Giles, but we're doing
OK."Giles returned to Pittsburgh on Friday -- Marcus Giles, that is.
Brian Giles' younger brother had three hits and two RBI as the
Braves rallied to tie it at 5 on Chipper Jones' RBI single in the
ninth after trailing 5-2.Will Cunnane (0-1), the Braves' fourth pitcher, then came on to
walk Jack Wilson to start the ninth ahead of Jason Kendall's ground
out. Carlos Rivera, hitless in his previous 11 at-bats, singled
with one out but Wilson fell down as he rounded third, preventing
him from scoring."Everybody was jumping up and down when they saw Andruw Jones'
throw was off line, but I don't know what happened. He just
slipped," Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said. "It looked like
it was going to cost us."After Reggie Sanders walked to load the bases and Jason Bay
flied out, Hernandez singled up the middle to win it. Cunnane, just
up from the minors and scoreless in six previous relief
appearances, was forced to pitch the ninth because the Braves are
currently without four injured relievers, including closer John
Smoltz."I have confidence in myself," Cunnane said. "I like to say
that nine times out of 10 I'll get out of that."Julian Tavarez (3-3), trying for an infrequent three-inning
save, pitched a perfect seventh and eighth before giving up the
tying run in the ninth. Chipper Jones' RBI single made him 9-for-12
against the right-hander.The Braves' comeback prevented Ortiz from losing for only the
second time in 14 starts. He left trailing 5-2 following a 1 hour,
16 minute rain delay in the top of the sixth.The Pirates' Salomon Torres also was lifted after five innings
and was in line to win as a starter for the first time in six
starts since May 17, but the Braves closed to 5-4 on Giles' two-run
single in the sixth off Brian Boehringer.Sheffield had an RBI single in the Braves' first before Torres
avoided a potentially bigger inning by retiring three straight
batters with runners on first and second and a run in.Bay, acquired from San Diego on Tuesday in the Giles trade,
started the Pirates' three-run second with a walk and Hernandez
doubled. Mackowiak then hit his fifth homer and his fourth in eight
games since being recalled from Triple-A Nashville on Aug. 19."That pitch is the only one I would take back," Ortiz said.
"That was pretty much the difference in the game. It was a big
mistake pitch down the middle and he jumped on it."Mackowiak had 16 homers as a part-time player last season, but
was demoted to the minors on June 8 after homering only once in the
first two months of this season.Ortiz had allowed three or fewer earned runs in eight
consecutive starts until giving up nine in 11 2-3 innings over his
last two starts.The Braves cut it to 3-2 in the fifth with the help of a Torres
wild pitch ahead of Chipper Jones' run-scoring grounder. But the
Pirates scored twice in their half of the inning on Matt Stairs'
RBI double and Bay's run-scoring single.
Ortiz, 6-0 in eight career starts against Pittsburgh, gave
up seven runs and five hits and walked four, two intentionally. ...
Ortiz has yielded 12 hits and nine runs in 10 innings in two starts
against Pittsburgh this season. ... Wilson went 2-for-4 to extend
his hitting streak to a career-high 16 games, starting the two-run
sixth with a single. ... Bay is 4-for-9 with two RBI and three
runs scored in three games since being dealt to Pittsburgh. ...
This is the fifth time this season the Pirates have won four in a