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Bay hits first homer of season

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Jason Bay figured he still knew how to hit
home runs.

The NL Rookie of the Year hit his first of the season and drove
in two runs Thursday as the Pittsburgh Pirates stopped a five-game
losing streak with a 4-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds.

"We were in desperate need of a win," Pittsburgh manager Lloyd
McClendon said. "Hopefully, we can get on a roll. I told the guys
to keep on fighting."

Bay had three hits, finishing a triple short of the cycle, and
his solo homer in the fifth to center field off Eric Milton (2-2)
was his first since Sept. 29.

"I wasn't trying to do it, but it's good to know I still can,"
said Bay, who hit 26 homers last season, when he became the first
Pittsburgh player to win the rookie award.

Kip Wells (1-3), pitching on his 28th birthday, won for the
first time in six starts since Aug. 7 at San Diego, allowing two
runs, three hits and five walks in five innings.

"It wasn't a real good outing, but the last three or four have
gotten progressively better," Wells said. "I didn't feel like I
pitched well, but I made pitches when I had to."

Wells, 3-0 in his career when pitching on his birthday, avoided
what would have been the first 0-4 start of his career.

"I thought his stuff was tremendous," McClendon said. "He
just threw too many pitches."

Jose Mesa pitched the ninth for his fifth save in five chances,
giving up a two-out double to pinch-hitter Jacob Cruz and a walk to
Ryan Freel before retiring Ken Griffey Jr. on a ground ball to
second base. Griffey went 0-for-3 with two walks and is homerless
in 46 at-bats this year. His previous high at the start of the
season was 44 in 1991.

"I was hoping for his first one right there," said Cincinnati
manager Dave Miley, who watched his team continue to struggle with
runners in scoring position. The Reds were 0-for-7, and are hitting
.096 (5-for-52) with runners in scoring position in their seven
losses. They are hitting .349 (22-for-63) with runners in scoring
position in their eight wins.

"It was just one of those days," Griffey said. "We couldn't
get the big hit."

The start of the game was delayed 12 minutes by rain and play
started under cloudy skies with a temperature of 52 degrees. Milton
(2-2) struggled with the weather, giving up three runs and five
hits in five innings.

"It was tough to get a feel out there," he said. "I tried
everything. I licked my fingers and blew on my hand, but I couldn't
spot the ball. When you don't have velocity and you can't spot the
ball, that's a deadly combination. It just felt like I was throwing
a cue ball. Their guy did a better job of pitching in the elements.

Wily Mo Pena put Cincinnati ahead with an RBI double in the
first, extending his hitting streak to a career-best six games.

Pittsburgh, just 5-11 this year, went ahead for good in the
third when Matt Lawton was hit by a pitch, Bay doubled off the
right-field wall, Craig Wilson hit an RBI single and Ty Wigginton
had a run-scoring grounder.

A run-scoring wild pitch after Freel's leadoff double in the
bottom half pulled Cincinnati to 3-2. David Ross drove in a run
with a squeeze bunt in the fifth after Adam Dunn dropped Freddy
Sanchez's fly ball to left for a three-base error.

"We did a good job of taking advantage of their mistakes," Bay
said. "We only had six hits, but we've had games where we had 13
and didn't score enough runs. It was good to finally get a lead and
hold on to it."

Game notes
Lawton did not lead off for the first time this season. He
extended his streak of consecutive games reaching base to 12 when
he was hit by a pitch ... Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon used his
16th lineup in 16 games. ... Slumping Pirates SS Jack Wilson batted
leadoff for the first time this season, but went 0-for-4 to extend
his hitless streak to 19 at-bats. ... Reds 3B Joe Randa got the day
off, his first of the season.