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Sanders leads Pittsburgh to win

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Reggie Sanders won't get to the World Series
for a third straight season. That doesn't mean he and the
Pittsburgh Pirates don't intend to play a role in determining who
reaches the postseason.

Sanders hit a three-run homer during a three-hit night as the
Pirates stalled the Philadelphia Phillies' pursuit of the NL wild
card, winning 8-4 Friday.

"We can be spoilers," said Sanders, who has 20 career homers
and 51 RBI against the Phillies. "We're not playing for anything,
but we're trying to finish strong and make it tough on the
contending teams. There's no pressure on us, but there is on
them."

Jim Thome became only the fifth player in Phillies' history and
the first since Mike Schmidt in 1983 to hit 40 homers in a season,
but the Phillies dropped their third in five games. They fell 1½
games behind Florida in the wild-card race when the Marlins beat
the Braves 5-4.

Jose Hernandez stopped an 0-for-26 September skid with a
two-run, pinch-hit single, and Abraham Nunez added a solo shot to
support Kip Wells' fourth straight strong start. The Pirates won
for only the fourth time in 11 games, but they are 5-2 against the
Phillies and the Marlins since Aug 26.

Sanders, who scored three runs, hit his 31st homer in the bottom
of the seventh inning off Jose Mesa, his ninth hit in 15 at-bats.
He reached the World Series last year with San Francisco and in
2001 with Arizona.

"He's got a lot of hits off a lot of people," Phillies manager
Larry Bowa said. "He's been doing it for years."

Wells (8-8) gave up Mike Lieberthal's double and Tomas Perez's
run-scoring single in the second, then limited the Phillies to only
two more hits after that. The right-hander has won three of his
last four starts, yielding five earned runs in 27 2/3 innings -- a
1.63 ERA. Before that, he went 0-3 in his previous four starts.

Wells gave up two runs -- one earned -- and four hits while
striking out seven and walking two.

"I think the light is finally coming on with him," manager
Lloyd McClendon said.

Wells was lifted with the Pirates leading 5-1 and the bases
loaded in the seventh. Mike Gonzalez walked pinch-hitter Jason Michaels to force in a run, but Mark Corey got Marlon Byrd on a
soft fly ball on a 3-1 pitch.

Wells' last three wins have come against wild-card contenders,
including two against the Marlins.

"It's fun to know these games can have an effect on what will
happen," Wells said. "If we can throw a wrench into it, that's
our job. We'll give them a fight and see what happens."

The Phillies were 52-14 when scoring first, but the Pirates tied
it at 1 against Amaury Telemaco (1-3) in the second on Sanders'
single, a wild pitch and a pair of groundouts.

Nunez hit his fourth homer and second in three games leading off
the fourth against Telemaco, winless in five starts since beating
the Cardinals on Aug. 17. He allowed seven hits and five runs, four
earned, in 5 1/3 innings.

Wells helped himself with a run-scoring grounder in the fifth
after Rob Mackowiak's double. Telemaco was lifted after Sanders
singled, Matt Stairs doubled and Craig Wilson was intentionally
walked in the sixth. Hernandez then singled off reliever Valerio De Los Santos for his first hit since Aug. 31.

"I was looking for a strikeout there," Bowa said. "He was
leading the league in strikeouts, so the odds were in our favor."

Thome's drive into the right-field seats off Corey in the eighth
came with the Pirates leading 8-2.

The cross-state teams played for the first time since April 6.
Since then, the Pirates have traded seven players who were on their
25-man roster that day, released two and put two on the 60-day
disabled list.

Game notes
Wells has allowed 22 homers, but only one in his last four
starts. ... The Phillies missed a chance to go 16 games over .500
for the first time since June 2, 2001. They had won five of their
last seven on the road. ... Wells' five RBI total leads all Pirates
pitchers. ... The Pirates are 3-1 against the Phillies. ... Thome
struck out once and now leads Hernandez 165-164 in strikeouts. They
are the two NL leaders.