Benson: First home win in year-plus

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Kris Benson's modest turnaround began when he
quit trying to be the pitcher everyone thought he could be and
concentrated on simply being the pitcher he is.

Tike Redman and Jack Wilson homered in Pittsburgh's go-ahead
seventh inning, and the Pirates beat the Anaheim Angels 5-2 on
Thursday night for Benson's first home victory in more than a year.

Redman began the game in a 4-for-28 slump, but hit two homers
during a 3-for-4 night. He added a two-run drive in the eighth
against reliever Kevin Gregg.

Benson (5-6) won in PNC Park for the first time since beating
Arizona on May 10, 2003. He was 0-6 with a 6.30 ERA in 11 starts
since, including 0-2 this season.

"We didn't challenge Benson at all," Angels manager Mike
Scioscia said. "We let him breeze through a couple of innings and
get his feet on the ground, and he pitched a terrific game."

Benson allowed five hits, struck out eight and walked none in
eight innings in his first career start against Anaheim. It was his
best start since holding the Mets to one run in seven innings on
April 18, an 8-1 victory. He had lost five of six decisions,
winning only once since April 30.

"Without a doubt, this is the best I've felt in a long time,"
Benson said. "I've had some decent starts now, and it's given me
some confidence."

Before Benson held the Cubs to two runs in six innings on June
5, he met with manager Lloyd McClendon and three coaches to review
what he was doing wrong.

Pitching coach Spin Williams adjusted his mechanics and
McClendon and hitting coach Gerald Perry convinced him go after
hitters more aggressively. Benson has long been considered a
potential 15- to 20-game winner, yet the former No. 1 draft pick
has only a 40-47 record in 119 career starts.

"Some people thought it was a jump-his-rear end meeting, but it
wasn't," McClendon said. "We just wanted to simplify things. We
told him hitting in the major leagues is very difficult to do and
his stuff is plenty good enough to get hitters out. He was very
positive about it, he was open to suggestions and he's taken it to
the mound."

Since then, Benson has allowed seven earned runs in 20 1-3
innings; maybe not Cy Young-type numbers, but an improvement over
the 13 runs in 12 innings he gave up in his two starts before that.

"Before, I think I was tipping my pitches off by exposing the
ball (during his windup)," Benson said. "Now they're missing the
pitches they used to hit hard."

Jose Mesa pitched the ninth for his 16th save in as many chances
and second in as many nights, tying Mike Williams' 2000 and 2002
club record for consecutive saves in a season.

Benson outdueled Bartolo Colon (4-6), who's winless in seven
starts since beating Tampa Bay on May 8. Colon couldn't hold a 2-1
lead in the seventh, allowing Redman's third homer on his first
pitch of the inning and, three batters later, Wilson's go-ahead

All three Pirates runs off Colon were homers, with Rob Mackowiak
hitting a solo drive in the fourth to end the right-hander's streak
of 20 scoreless innings against Pittsburgh. Colon was 2-0 with a
0.00 ERA in two starts against the Pirates while with the Indians.

Colon pitched better than he did while surrendering 13 runs and
18 hits in 10 1-3 innings in his previous two starts, but was
troubled again by homers. He has allowed an AL-leading 21 in 82

"Sometimes I try to put my finger on it and say `God, what's
going on, why so many home runs?' " Colon said, speaking through
interpreter Jose Mota. "I know I'm going to give up some more. ...
But I've got to keep going hard at the hitters."

Garret Anderson accounted for most of the Angels' offense as
they dropped their ninth in 12 games and their fourth straight

Anderson doubled and scored on Darin Erstad's single in the
fifth after Benson retired the first 12 batters, then singled,
moved to third when center fielder Redman misplayed the ball and
scored on Jose Guillen's single in the seventh.

The Pirates had lost nine in a row and 14 of 15 until winning
the final two games of the three-game series. They had dropped four
consecutive series since taking three of four from the Cubs on May

Game notes
The Pirates were 2-9 in Benson's last 11 home starts. ...
Colon lost for only the fifth time in 18 career decisions in
interleague play. ... Wilson is 14-for-33 with six RBI in eight
games. ... Erstad's 164 career hits are the most in interleague
play. ... The Pirates won consecutive games at home for only the
third time this season. They're 11-19 at home.