MIAMI (AP) -- The Pittsburgh Pirates apparently figured out how
to win close games over the All-Star break.
Jeromy Burnitz's single through a drawn-in infield drove in the
tie-breaking run in the ninth inning of a 5-3 victory over the
Florida Marlins on Thursday, improving the Pirates' record since
the break to 5-2.
The Pirates are 4-0 in games decided by two runs or less since
the break after going 15-32 in the first half of the season.
"We've been in a lot of situations where we've had leads and
not held them, or come back but not far enough," Pirates All-Star
outfielder Jason Bay said. "Now we've been holding those leads.
It's a lot easier to do that when you get into a rhythm and have a
Jose Bautista walked on four pitches to lead off the ninth and
advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. He moved to third on a wild
pitch and scored on Burnitz's groundball hit between first and
second. Jack Wilson added an insurance run with a two-out double.
"I don't think it's a reach to say we were in this situation
the entire first half," Pirates manager Jim Tracy said. "Now you
see a better understanding of those type of situations."
Gonzalez allowed a walk and a single after striking out the
first two batters, but struck out Alfredo Amezaga to end the game.
"That's the one thing I didn't want to do was throw a lot of
pitches, and I ended up doing that," Gonzalez said. "That's just
one of those things that I've got to learn, after you get two quick
outs, go out there and try to get a groundball. Stop trying to
strike the guy out."
Randy Messenger (1-6) allowed two runs, two hits and two walks,
only getting two outs in the ninth.
Pirates rookie Nate McLouth tied the game at 3 when he led off
eighth inning with his fifth homer. He had struck out with the
bases loaded and one out in the fifth inning when the Pirates had a
chance to break a 2-2 tie.
"To kind of atone for that and tie the game up late was
definitely gratifying for myself," McLouth said, "but it's also a
Bay hit a two-run homer, his 22nd, for the Pirates in the
Florida starter Josh Johnson, who shared NL Rookie of the Month
honors for June with Uggla, allowed two runs and four hits in seven
innings and left with a 3-2 lead.
"He had a great outing," Florida manager Joe Girardi said.
"That's what J.J. does. J.J. holds teams down. He does a lot of
things right and he did (them) tonight. Two runs in seven innings,
that's a great outing for our young starters."
Pirates starter Ian Snell gave up three runs and six hits in six
innings. He had been shelled for seven runs in 1 1/3 innings in his
only other start against Florida this season.
"I held a grudge against them since that little game we had in
Pittsburgh," Snell said. "I just didn't fall into the same
routine that I fell in last time, just throwing fastballs,
fastballs. I just kept mixing up my pitches and locating my
Johnson didn't allow a baserunner until the fourth when Wilson
walked with one out and Bay homered one out later.
The Marlins tied it in the bottom of the inning when Jacobs led
off with an opposite-field home run to left, his 14th, and took the
lead in the sixth on Uggla's triple.
"It's a game we had a chance to win and just didn't get the job
done," Girardi said.
Pittsburgh 3B Freddy Sanchez, who entered the game leading
the NL in batting with a .363 average, went 0-for-5 to drop to
.358. ... Johnson needed only five pitches to retire the side in
order in the first inning. ... Bay's home run extended his hitting
streak to 12 games.