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Pirates edge D-Backs in 12th to halt home losing skid

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The Pittsburgh Pirates went through two
managers and a pair of 12-inning games in three days before finally
ending a record-tying home losing streak.

Humberto Cota singled home the winning run in the 12th, and the
Pirates overcame Tony Clark's two homers and five RBI to end a
10-game home losing streak with an 8-7 victory over the Arizona
Diamondbacks on Thursday.

"This feels really good, because we didn't want to break that
record," Cota said.

The Pirates lost 10 in a row at home for only the second time in
their 119-season history and the first time since 1968. Their first
victory in Pete Mackanin's three games as interim manager since
replacing the fired Lloyd McClendon also ended a six-game overall
losing streak.

"Hopefully, this relaxes everyone and we can start playing
better ball," Mackanin said.

With a 56-83 record, they can't play much worse.

Pittsburgh was within two outs of losing following Clark's
second homer, a three-run go-ahead drive in the ninth, when Jason
Bay hit a tying two-run shot -- his 26th -- in the bottom of the
inning off Tim Worrell. Worrell blew his third save in four
opportunities.

In the top of the inning, Jose Mesa blew his third consecutive
save opportunity by giving up Clark's 25th homer. Clark also hit a
two-run drive in the first off Josh Fogg during his 17th career
multihomer game.

"The goal is to shake hands at the end of the day," Clark said
of his big day in a losing cause. "If it's a 5-for-5 that does it
or a 0-for-5, it doesn't matter."

After the Pirates couldn't score with the bases loaded in the
11th, Rob Mackowiak singled off Buddy Groom (0-1), Arizona's
seventh pitcher, to start the 12th and moved up on Freddy Sanchez's
sacrifice bunt. Cota, who doubled in a run in the eighth, then
singled to center to give Pittsburgh its first home victory since
Aug. 23.

"It's good to finally win a game -- it seems like it's a lot
longer than it's actually been," Bay said.

The Pirates came back from deficits of 2-0, 4-3, and 7-5. Rick
White (4-6) pitched a scoreless 12th for the victory.

"We've got to find a way to win that game," Diamondbacks
manager Bob Melvin said. "We had a lot of opportunities to win
that game, more opportunities than they did."

Right-hander Dustin Nippert made his major-league debut for
Arizona 14 months after having reconstructive elbow surgery, but
couldn't hold a 2-0 lead supplied by Clark's first homer. Nippert,
who had a Double-A Southern League-best 2.38 ERA at Tennessee
before being promoted, allowed three runs and five hits in five
innings.

Nippert had a chance for the win, which would have delighted the
estimated 200 fans in attendance from his nearby hamlet of
Beallsville, Ohio -- almost half the village's population of 443.

"They brought three or four school buses," Nippert said.
"But, hey, it's not that big of a town."

Nippert was lifted after five innings because of a torn
fingernail on his right index finger that prevented him from
properly gripping his curve ball. He left with a 4-3 lead following
Luis Terrero's two-run homer on the first pitch thrown by reliever
Brian Meadows in the sixth, but Craig Wilson's homer off reliever
Greg Aquino tied it in the bottom of the sixth.

Wilson's homer was his second of the season and his first since
May 3 during an injury-interrupted season in which he has twice
spent long stretches on the disabled list with hand injuries. He
had a team-high 29 homers last season.

Nippert had to persevere just to get to the majors. He and twin
brother, Derik, also a pitcher in Arizona's farm system, were
involved in serious auto accident in 1999. Four years later,
Nippert developed a large tumor on the back of his right shoulder,
but it proved to be benign. He had the elbow operation last year.

Game notes
The Pirates had lost 11 of 12. ... Fogg has allowed 27
homers in 28 starts. He left after Chad Tracy singled off his right
hand in the sixth, but an MRI exam didn't reveal any injury. ...
Diamondbacks OF Luis Gonzalez was expected to miss a second
consecutive game with flu-like symptoms, but entered in the ninth
during a double switch. ... Nippert has allowed only 10 homers in
four pro seasons. ... Nippert's mother, a school aide, sold 100
tickets to the game herself. ... The Diamondbacks won 4-2 in 12
innings Monday night.