Perez roughed up in Pirates' debut


PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Mike Hessman left the Atlanta Braves with
something to remember him by, at least until his expected return
sometime next month.

Hessman hit a two-run homer in only his second start, keying a
seven-run third inning that ruined Oliver Perez's debut with
Pittsburgh and led the Braves to a 13-6 victory Saturday.

Hessman didn't have time to celebrate -- he was optioned back to
Triple-A Richmond as soon as the game ended. The move probably was
temporary, and Hessman likely will be back once rosters are
expanded next month.

"He's got tremendous power, this guy," manager Bobby Cox said.
"He crushed that ball. He's a great kid, one you really pull for.
He goes 100 percent every second."

Much like the Braves' offense did after a short lull in which
Atlanta dropped three of four. Javy Lopez and Mark DeRosa had
two-run doubles off Perez, who retired only one of the seven
batters he faced in the third. He left after allowing six runs and
four hits in 2 2-3 innings.

"It was like the good old days," Horacio Ramirez said,
apparently referring to last weekend, when the Braves scored 26
runs in three games against Colorado.

Ramirez (9-4) withstood Craig Wilson's three-run homer in the
fourth to last seven innings and win for the first time in eight
starts since July 7. He won despite giving up 10 hits and five runs
in seven innings in his first career start against Pittsburgh.

Perez, a hard-throwing left-hander acquired Tuesday with
outfielder Jason Bay in the Brian Giles trade, extended a string of
poor starts that began with the Padres.

Perez's wildness set up the seven-run inning as he walked three
of four batters around Gary Sheffield's run-scoring single. Doubles
by Lopez and DeRosa made it 5-1 and chased Perez (4-8), and Hessman
followed with his second career homer, off reliever Nelson

"It's nice to see the bats break out," said Marcus Giles, who
also hit a solo homer. "We're capable of it and it's nice to

In four starts -- three with San Diego -- since striking out 13 in
a 5-2 victory over the Phillies on Aug. 3, Perez has given up 20
runs and 22 hits in 19 1-3 innings.

"He's got one of the best arms I've seen from the left side,"
catcher Jason Kendall said. "He can be something special."

Manager Lloyd McClendon wasn't disappointed with Perez's debut,
saying, "I'm sure he was a little excited, a little pumped up. He
certainly showed good stuff."

"I'm always nervous before every start and this was different
being with a new team," Perez said, speaking through an
interpreter. "I just didn't pitch well, though. I just have to
come back the next time and make it work."

Sheffield had three RBI, including a two-run double in a
five-run ninth after the Pirates -- who had won four straight -- cut
an 8-1 deficit to 8-6. Andruw Jones later hit his 32nd homer, a
two-run shot off the roof of the Braves' bullpen in center.

"The ball almost hit me," said Jaret Wright, who was warming

Hessman was recalled from Triple-A Richmond on Aug. 18 but
didn't make his first career start until Thursday. Each of his
three hits went for extra bases, including a pinch-hit homer
Tuesday that was his first hit. He led Richmond with 16 homers
before being called up.

"It was definitely great being here and helping out the team a
little," Hessman said.

The Pirates tried to mount a comeback. Wilson's three-run drive
carried an estimated 445 feet into the bleachers in left-center in
the fourth. Jeff Reboulet had an RBI single in the eighth, but Ray
King struck out pinch-hitter Matt Stairs with the potential tying
run on base.

Game notes
The Pirates' Jack Wilson ran his hitting streak to 17 games
with a run-scoring single in the seventh. ... DeRosa went 3-for-5
in a spot start at third as Vinny Castilla got the day off. ... The
Pirates have failed five times this season to extend a four-game
winning streak to five. ... Perez faced the Braves for the first
time. ... The Braves had lost three of four. ... Wright, claimed
Friday from the Padres, made his Braves debut by pitching a
scoreless ninth. ... The Braves will likely use Hessman's roster
spot to recall C Johnny Estrada from Richmond. Players must be on a
major league roster by Sunday to be eligible for postseason play,
when the Braves usually carry three catchers.