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Benson pitches seven shutout innings, scores run

4/6/2003

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- One day after losing by 15 runs, the
Pittsburgh Pirates needed a good performance from their ace.

Kris Benson delivered a gem, pitching seven shutout innings and
scoring a run as the Pirates beat the Philadelphia Phillies 2-0
Sunday.

Benson (2-0), who allowed one unearned run in 6 1-3 innings in a
season-opening win against Cincinnati, gave up six hits and a walk.
He struck out six.

"I've got to be the guy who gets us back on track, I was
definitely thinking about that going in,'' Benson said about the
Pirates' 16-1 loss Saturday. "We can't fall into ruts of losing
three or four in a row.''

Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon was hoping for such a
performance from Benson.

"After taking a beating like we did, he was just what we
needed,'' McClendon said. "He took the bull by the horns today and
was outstanding with great command.''

Mike Williams pitched the ninth for his third save for the
Pirates, who are off to a 5-1 start for the second straight year.

Phillies starter Brett Myers (0-1), fighting for his spot in the
rotation after a poor spring, struck out a career-high 11 and gave
up one run, four hits and four walks in six innings.

"Myers did a great job today but when you don't score any runs
you're not going to win many games,'' Phillies manager Larry Bowa
said. "Benson obviously shut us down.''

Pittsburgh's first run was unearned in the fifth, scoring
without the ball leaving the infield. With one out, Benson hit a
high pop that first baseman Jim Thome dropped. Myers did not cover
the bag and Benson reached on Thome's error.

"That got them going,'' said Thome. "I just dropped it and
it's unfortunate because (Myers) was pitching a good game.''

Benson then went to second on a bunt single by Kenny Lofton and
a walk to Jason Kendall loaded the bases. An RBI groundout by Brian
Giles made it 1-0.

"I had a feeling that the game was going to turn on one play,''
McClendon said. "We've been scoring some runs this season but I've
been telling everyone that we can play small ball too.''

The Pirates scored an insurance run in the eighth off reliever
Eric Junge, called up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on
Saturday. Kevin Young doubled to lead off the inning and one out
later stole third. He then scored on a single by Pokey Reese.

The Phillies led off the eighth against Scott Sauerbeck with
back-to-back singles by Jimmy Rollins and Placido Polanco, who was
3-for-4.

Bobby Abreu then flied out, moving Rollins to third, and Thome
hit a slow bouncer back to Sauerbeck, who held the runner at third.
Brian Boehringer came in to strike out Pat Burrell to end the
threat.

Game notes
Bowa was ejected in the sixth inning by first-base umpire
Bill Miller after arguing an out call on Abreu. It was Bowa's first
ejection of the season, though he is currently appealing a
suspension from baseball after being ejected from a spring training
game. "I just told him that he missed two plays,'' Bowa said. "No
swear words.'' ... Benson is 3-0 at Veterans Stadium in his career.
... Thome had his streak of reaching base safely stopped at 60
games, second-longest in the majors since 1990. Mark McGwire has
the longest in that stretch with 62 straight from Sept. 16, 1995
through June 18, 1996 while with Oakland.