Series: Game 2 of 3

Pittsburgh leads 2-0 (as of 7/17)

Game 1: Friday, July 16
Game 2: Saturday, July 17
Game 3: Sunday, July 18

Marlins 2


Pirates 4

(41-47, 20-22 home)

    7:05 PM ET, July 17, 2004

    PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 

    123456789 R H E
    FLA 002000000 2 8 1
    PIT 10000003 - 4 10 1

    W: S. Torres (5-3)

    L: A. Benitez (2-1)

    S: J. Mesa (24)

    Pirates rally with three in eighth

    PITTSBURGH (AP) -- A tip from an opposing player helped rookie Tony Alvarez during the biggest at-bat of his short career and kept the Pittsburgh Pirates' home winning streak going.

    Tike Redman's tying single and Alvarez's sacrifice fly sparked Pittsburgh's three-run rally in the eighth inning against two All-Star pitchers, and the Pirates won their ninth in a row at home by beating the Florida Marlins 4-2 Saturday night.

    The Pirates remain under .500 at home (20-22), but their winning streak there is their longest since they made a frantic but futile run at the NL East title in 1978 by winning 24 in a row from mid-August until late September.

    Pittsburgh has won eight of 11 against Florida the last two seasons, including five in a row in Pittsburgh, and 14 of 18 overall. Florida dropped its ninth in 13 games and slipped to .500 (45-45) two games into a key 10-game road trip.

    "We've got to figure out a way to beat these guys," Juan Pierre said.

    Marlins starter Carl Pavano stranded eight runners and took a 2-1 lead into the eighth, but star closer Armando Benitez came on after Jason Bay doubled with one out. Benitez (2-1) had pitched 11 consecutive scoreless innings spanning eight games.

    "You're going against two power pitchers. ... You don't get a good feeling when the pitcher they bring in is throwing even harder than the guy they take out," Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said. "It didn't look good, so it was a very big win for us."

    Six of the first seven hitters to face Benitez reached base in only his third blown save in 33 chances. He held batters to an .083 average during his scoreless streak.

    "It wasn't my night," Benitez said. "I feel sorry for Pavano, because he threw a good game. But I don't have any excuses."

    Redman's run-scoring single up the middle tied it, and walks to Randall Simon and Bobby Hill loaded the bases ahead of pinch-hitter Alvarez's sinking liner that left fielder Jeff Conine caught at his shoetops for a go-ahead sacrifice fly. After another walk, to Jason Kendall, Jack Wilson singled in another run with only his second hit in 18 at-bats.

    "I talked to (Phillies outfielder) Bobby Abreu before I faced Benitez last week in Miami, so I had a little bit of an idea what to do at the plate," Alvarez said. "Bobby settled me down, and he gives me a lot of tips. We became friends in winter ball in 1996 and we talk almost every night."

    McClendon passed over veteran infielder Chris Stynes to go with Alvarez, a .238 hitter who had only 47 career at-bats before facing one of the NL's top closers.

    "I agonized over it," McClendon said. "But Stynes' numbers against Benitez weren't good, and I thought Tony would put the ball in play and have a good at-bat. I just felt he would come through."

    Salomon Torres (5-3) pitched a scoreless eighth for the victory, and Jose Mesa finished up for his second save in two nights and his 24th in 25 opportunities.

    Pavano repeatedly worked out of trouble while allowing eight hits in 7 1-3 innings, and his single set up Florida's only scoring against Kip Wells on Miguel Cabrera's two-out single in the third. The two-run inning was a veritable breakout for the Marlins, who have scored only 379 runs in 90 games -- the second fewest in the NL.

    Wells gave up five hits, walked one and struck out six in six innings, but has won only once in 10 starts, a 3-1 victory over Florida on July 5.

    Pittsburgh also scored in the first on Kendall's leadoff double and, two batters later, Craig Wilson's run-scoring grounder.

    Cabrera, Florida's right fielder, injured his right hand running into the wall trying to catch Bay's long drive in the eighth. The extent of the injury wasn't immediately known, but McKeon said he couldn't have batted in the ninth.

    "He couldn't swing the bat," McKeon said. "When he jumped, he came down and grabbed the fence and did something to his index finger. ... He probably didn't have to jump, but that's the way it went all night."

    Game notes

    It didn't feel like midsummer on a rainy, 64-degree night as many fans wore jackets. ... Florida is 19-35 in Pittsburgh. ... Jack Wilson singled in the third to stop an 0-for-14 slide. ... Pavano had won his last three road starts.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press