<
>

Pirates manager kicks himself for slow hook

4/17/2004

NEW YORK (AP) -- Managers hate second-guessers, but there was a
moment Saturday when Pittsburgh manager Lloyd McClendon did that to
himself.

McClendon had massaged starting pitcher Oliver Perez through six
innings, sitting on a 1-0 lead against the New York Mets. Perez had
allowed just two hits but was in uncharted territory when McClendon
sent him out for the seventh.

"I went against the grain," the manager said. "I should have
taken him out after six. I kicked myself because I put him position
to lose that game. I shouldn't have done that."

Perez got through the first two batters, then walked Mike Piazza
and Mike Cameron. And when Ty Wigginton followed with a two-strike
single against reliever Brian Meadows, the game was tied.

Meadows got the last out and then got credit for the win when
Tike Redman doubled leading off the eighth and scored on a
sacrifice fly by Jason Kendall for a 2-1 Pirates' victory.

"He made some good pitches," Kendall said of Perez. "You
wanted a game like this."

Perez came away with a no decision but the only left-hander in
the Pittsburgh rotation had to be pleased with his performance. He
retired 14 of his first 15 batters, allowed just two hits and
struck out six.

"The big thing is I was working the way I want," he said. "I
was taking it man to man, out to out. In the seventh, little things
happened. I fell behind and that led to the walks."

And the walks led to New York's tying run.

An inning later, the Pirates were back in front after Redman
ripped a shot past first base and into the right-field corner
against Steve Trachsel (1-2). Jack Wilson sacrificed and Kendall
drove in the run with a fly ball to center as Redman beat Cameron's
throw to the plate.

The Mets tried to come back in the bottom half. Vance Wilson
opened with his second hit and advanced on a sacrifice by
pinch-hitter Jeff Duncan. But relievers Mike Johnson and Solomon
Torres retired the next two hitters. Jose Mesa pitched the ninth
for his fifth save. He has not allowed a runner in those five
games.

Vance Wilson remembered the Mets having better success against
Perez a year ago. Pitching for San Diego, the left-hander gave up
five runs in seven innings that day.

"He's a little smoother this year," Wilson said. "He's made
some adjustments so it's like facing a different pitcher."

Rookie Jose Castillo hit his first major league home run for the
Pirates, connecting on the first pitch he saw from Trachsel in the
fifth inning.

In the sixth, Perez allowed a leadoff single to Karim Garcia,
who advanced on a balk. But Perez struck out the next three
batters, stranding the potential tying run at second.

"The kid's got great stuff," McClendon said. "He's a great
competitor. He'll have ups and downs. Today was an up day."

Trachsel was in frequent trouble. The Mets turned double plays
in the first two innings and the Pirates wasted a leadoff double by
Craig Wilson in the third. Kendall and Rob Mackowiak singled in the
fifth but Shane Spencer saved two runs with a sprawling catch in
left field to end the inning.

Craig Wilson, who had three hits, doubled again in the seventh
but Trachsel retired Castillo and Perez to end the inning. Trachsel
struck out five and walked one in eight innings.

Game notes
Perez had lost six straight decisions before beating
Cincinnati last Sunday. ... Redman made all three putouts in the
fifth inning and saved an extra-base hit running down Rick
Gutierrez's leadoff drive in the seventh.