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Pirates score three unearned runs in fifth

MIAMI (AP) -- The Pittsburgh Pirates believe they have an
All-Star catcher in Jason Kendall -- even if nobody else thinks so.

Kendall, denied a spot on the NL All-Star team, came through
with two stellar plays in the ninth inning to help preserve
Pittsburgh's 4-3 win over the Florida Marlins on Wednesday night.

"He's pretty special," Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said.
"If he doesn't make those plays, we probably lose."

Oliver Perez outpitched All-Star Carl Pavano, and the Pirates
bounced back one night after having their 10-game winning streak
snapped.

Kendall, who lost out Wednesday to Philadelphia outfielder Bobby
Abreu in Internet fan voting for the final spot on the NL All-Star
squad, made two strong throws in the ninth. The catcher cut down
speedy Luis Castillo at second on Juan Pierre's bunt, then nailed
Pierre trying to steal second.

Kendall didn't mind being left off the All-Star team, adding he
was happy to even be considered.

"Just to be recognized is an honor," he said. "Actually, I'm
going to enjoy those four days off."

Pittsburgh also threw out the potential tying run at the plate
to end the seventh inning on a strong relay from left fielder Rob
Mackowiak to third baseman Bobby Hill.

The Marlins are 2-6 in their last eight games and have dropped
10 of 14.

Perez (5-4) pitched five innings, allowing four hits and two
runs to win his second consecutive start. Before that, he was
winless since May 13.

The left-hander struck out four, well off his pace from the last
two starts when he combined for 24 strikeouts.

Five relievers finished up, with Jose Mesa getting three outs
for his 22nd save in 23 chances. Mesa struck out Damion Easley with
two on to end it -- after getting defensive help from Kendall.

"He saved the game tonight, no question about it," Mesa said.
"If those two guys are on base, it's a different story. For us,
he's an All-Star."

The Pirates took advantage of an error by Easley at first base
in the fifth. That led to three unearned runs, and Pittsburgh wiped
out a 2-1 deficit.

With two outs and the bases empty, Abraham Nunez hit a sharp
grounder through Easley's legs for an error. Nunez then scored on
Mackowiak's double. Hill also hit a double to left, scoring
Mackowiak to make it 3-2.

Tike Redman beat out an infield single that scored Craig Wilson
from third.

"The ball stayed down, and I came up too soon," said Easley,
who was making his sixth start at first base. "I just didn't make
the play."

Easley went 3-for-5 at the plate with two RBI, but he was upset
after botching a routine play that cost his team three runs.

"Sometimes it's your turn," he said. "Tonight I was on both
sides of it, good and bad, and the bad prevailed."

Pavano lost his second straight start as the Marlins dropped
their second consecutive home series.

Pavano (9-4), who had gone at least seven innings in 13 straight
starts, worked six against the Pirates. He allowed four runs -- one
earned -- and seven hits. He struck out six.

"I had an erratic night," he said. "A few innings got away
from me. That bad hop ate (Easley) up, but I needed to buckle down
and let him off the hook, and I didn't."

The Marlins pulled to 4-3 in the seventh on Mike Lowell's
sacrifice fly. The Pirates then cut down Miguel Cabrera at the
plate on Easley's double into the left-field corner.

Florida scored a run in the first. Cabrera and Lowell reached on
two-out walks, and Easley delivered an RBI single to center.

The Pirates tied it in the third, helped by Pavano, who loaded
the bases by walking Mackowiak with two outs, then hit Wilson with
a pitch to bring home Perez, who reached on a single.

Florida took a 2-1 lead in the third. Pierre led off with a
single, stole second and scored on Easley's two-out single to
left.

Game notes
Pirates All-Star shortstop Jack Wilson, who leads the NL in
hits, missed the game because of an irritated left knee and is day
to day. Nunez started in place of Wilson and went 1-for-4. ...
Marlins OF Jeff Conine sat out for the second straight day. Josh
Willingham, called up from Double-A Carolina, started again and got
his first major league hit, a single in the fifth.