Pirates go to Wells to hand Giants fifth straight loss

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- If this was Kip Wells' last start for the
Pittsburgh Pirates, he'll leave on a good note.

Wells, the subject of much trade talk, outdueled Jason Schmidt
as the Pirates beat the Giants 3-0 on Friday night.

"You want to pitch good every time out, whether it's your first
[start] or your last," said Wells, who hadn't won since Oct. 1 of
last season. "But you take the approach that you try to pitch well
every time out and whatever happens, happens. I don't feel like I'm
necessarily in a situation where this might be my last start, but
you ever know."

Wells (1-5), who missed almost three months to start this season
due to March surgery to repair a blocked artery in his pitching
arm, tossed seven-plus shutout innings, allowing five hits while
walking three and striking out three. He will be a free agent at
the end of the season.

"He's a really good pitcher when he throws strikes early in the
count," Pirates manager Jim Tracy said. "He was terrific tonight,
very challenging with his fastball."

Barry Bonds went 0-for-4 for the Giants, who have lost a
season-high five in a row -- by a combined eight runs. Bonds, who
played with the Pirates from 1986-92 and won two National League
Most Valuable Player awards, was greeted with a mixture of cheers
and boos each time he came up -- about two-thirds boos. The Pirates
have not had a winning season since his departure after the 1992
National League Championship Series.

Bonds flied out to left with two outs in the eighth -- an inning
in which the Giants had the bases loaded and nobody out.

The Giants had runners on second and third with nobody out in
the ninth, but Mike Gonzalez promptly struck out the side for his
17th save in 17 chances.

"We're mostly just a hit away from breaking the game open or
being ahead," said Steve Finley, who was on base three times along
with teammate Ray Durham.

"It's frustrating when it comes down to that. We're not getting
blown out. We are right there."

The Pirates matched a season-high by winning their third
consecutive game.

Freddy Sanchez had an RBI single and Jose Castillo an RBI double
for the Pirates, whose only other three-game winning streak this
season was against the Giants. Pittsburgh took the final three of a
four-game series June 8-11 in San Francisco.

"I just kept trying to do what I wanted to do and I couldn't
quite stick the ball in the spot I wanted to get it in," Schmidt
said. "That makes it frustrating. I think every mistake I made
they hit -- which is what they're supposed to do. Sometimes you make
a mistake and they pop it up. But tonight it didn't happen."

Schmidt was dominant well into the sixth inning. The first
Pirates' hitter of the game -- Nate McLouth -- singled to center off
Schmidt (7-7), but the ex-Pirate retired the next 17 batters he
faced before McLouth singled to left with two outs in the sixth.

Innocent enough, until consecutive singles followed by Jack Wilson and Sanchez. Sanchez's shot to left scored McLouth and Pittsburgh
took a 1-0 lead.

"To put together three singles in a row against a guy like
[Schmidt]," McLouth said. "You scratch out a run any way you can
against somebody like that."

Schmidt started to unravel at that point, walking the next two
batters on 11 pitches. Sean Casey was credited with an RBI when
Wilson scored on his walk to make it 2-0.

"It seemed like ... he had tremendous stuff and he just kind of
lost it," Giants manager Felipe Alou said.

Ronny Paulino singled to lead off the seventh and when Castillo,
hitless in his last 11 at-bats, followed with a double into the gap
in left-center, Schmidt's night was over.

"There was a great job tonight of table-setting by Nate and
Jack," Tracy said. "And a great job of clutch hitting by Freddy
and Jose."

Schmidt won his previous start Saturday against San Diego but
had not won before that since June 6. Heading into Friday's game,
he was 4-1 with a 2.08 ERA against his former team.

Wells' ERA was over 17.00 after allowing five first-inning runs
to the New York Mets in his fourth start of the season July 5. But
since then, the righthander has allowed only four runs in 24 2/3

"You see the last couple outings, he's been great," Gonzalez
said. "I'm excited for Kip. He's throwing the ball well and looks
good. I hadn't seen that in a while. I knew I needed to get out
there in the ninth and get it done for Kip."

Game Notes
The Pirates' starting pitcher has worked at least six
innings in nine of the last 12 games. ... Giants' starters have
worked at least six innings in 73 of 103 games this season. ... The
game drew 38,092 -- the Pirates third sellout of the season.