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Pittsburgh jumps to early lead and hangs on

9/13/2003

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- All of a sudden, the worried Philadelphia
Phillies aren't viewing the Pittsburgh Pirates as an
out-of-contention team supposedly playing out the string in
September.

Abraham Nunez's two-run double in the second inning helped the
Pirates open a five-run lead against Kevin Millwood, and they held
on for a 5-3 victory Saturday night that damaged the Phillies'
wild-card chances.

With Pirates starter Josh Fogg pitching effectively for most of
his seven innings, the Phillies lost in Pittsburgh for the second
straight night to fall 2{ games behind NL wild-card leader Florida.
The Marlins beat the Braves 8-3.

The Phillies, losers of four of six since winning six in a row,
haven't been this far out of the wild-card lead since they trailed
the Dodgers by three games on June 26.

"Yeah, but we've still got a lot of games left against the team
we're trying to catch," Jim Thome said, referring to the Phillies'
six remaining games against Florida. "It's disappointing to lose
the first two here, it's tough ... but we've got to try to keep
everybody positive because we've still got games against the team
ahead of us."

The Pirates have been out of contention for weeks, but have won
six of eight against the Marlins and Phillies since Aug. 26.
Pittsburgh needs to lose only three more games to run its franchise
record streak of losing seasons to 11.

"But you can see they have a lot of hunger," Thome said.
"They came out and scored some runs against a very good pitcher
that's won a lot of games."

Millwood (14-11) walked Rob Mackowiak leading off the second and
Tike Redman followed with a one-out double. Nunez's double made it
3-0 and Jason Kendall added a run-scoring single, his seventh hit
in 14 at-bats.

"It's exciting to get a big hit in a game like this," said
Nunez, who is 10-for-22 in his last six games. "It's fun to play
against a team that is (contending) and maybe have an impact on
their race."

Craig Wilson led off the Pirates' fourth with a triple that
right fielder Bobby Abreu had the ball in his glove before
dropping. Mackowiak's single pushed the lead to 5-0.

Afterward, Millwood pointed to some costly mental mistakes that
were uncharacteristic of the Phillies. The biggest came in the
ninth, when pinch-runner Nick Punto was picked off second by
catcher Kendall after Tomas Perez bunted through a pitch. That
allowed Julian Tavarez to work out of a jam despite letting the
first three batters reach base on a walk and two singles.

"Physical mistakes are going to happen, but when you make
mental mistakes, that's what will kill you," Millwood said. "You
can't play like that in the middle of the race."

Punto was visibly down, saying, "It's a fundamental. You see
the bat hit the ball and you run. I anticipated it and that can't
happen. It was a terrible mistake."

Fogg (10-8) became the first Pirates pitcher to reach double
figures in wins this season, allowing only one hit over five
shutout innings before giving up four consecutive hits during a
three-run sixth.

Jimmy Rollins singled and Abreu doubled down the right-field
line. Thome's single drove in two runs ahead of Mike Lieberthal's
single and Chase Utley's run-scoring grounder.

The Phillies' outburst came just after Fogg ran hard trying to
beat out a grounder up the middle to end the fifth. Second baseman
Utley caught the ball barehanded behind the bag, wheeled and threw
out Fogg by a half-step.

"Josh was a little bit winded and it looked like he was trying
to catch his breath," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "I think that
took something out of him."

Fogg finally got out of the shaky sixth, then pitched a
scoreless seventh before being lifted. The right-hander overcame
three walks to win for the fourth time in five decisions. He has a
1.82 ERA in his last four starts.

Millwood gave up seven hits and five runs in five innings and
has allowed 10 runs in 14 innings in his last two starts, both
losses.

"I'm a better pitcher than that," he said. "I haven't been
doing the job I wanted to do."

Game notes
Tavarez pitched the final 1 2-3 innings for his seventh
save in 10 attempts. ... The Phillies have not played well
defensively so far in the series, but center fielder Marlon Byrd
made an excellent sliding catch of Wilson's drive in the seventh.
... The Pirates are 4-1 against the Phillies and have beaten them
four straight times at PNC Park dating to last season. ... The
Phillies were held to three runs or fewer for the 57th time in 149
games. ... Florida starts a three-game series at Veterans Stadium
on Tuesday.