Series: Game 3 of 4

Cincinnati leads 2-1 (as of 4/25)

Game 1: Friday, April 23
Game 2: Saturday, April 24
Game 3: Sunday, April 25
Game 4: Monday, April 26

Reds 0

(11-7, 5-4 away)

Pirates 6

(8-9, 3-5 home)

    1:35 PM ET, April 25, 2004

    PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 

    123456789 R H E
    CIN 000000000 0 6 0
    PIT 011201010 6 10 0

    W: O. Perez (2-0)

    L: J. Acevedo (2-1)

    Rain delay does not sway left-hander

    PITTSBURGH (AP) -- A nearly three-hour rain delay was of no real bother to Pirates left-hander Oliver Perez. It was the thought of another two-day delay that worried him.

    Perez, eager to pitch despite the extended wait at the start, shut out Cincinnati on six hits in his first major league complete game and Pittsburgh hit three homers Sunday in beating the Reds 6-0.

    "I'm very happy to get that," Perez said. "I'm just hoping to get some more (shutouts)."

    Rookie Jose Castillo hit a two-run homer and Rob Mackowiak and Humberto Cota had solo shots off Reds starter Jose Acevedo (2-1) to help the Pirates end a four-game losing streak. The Reds had won four of five overall and were 4-1 against Pittsburgh.

    Perez (2-0) almost didn't make the starting rotation coming out of spring training as he struggled late in camp to make numerous adjustments to his delivery, but has been the Pirates' most reliable starter since then.

    He struck out 10 -- the sixth time in his 43-game career he's had double-digit strikeouts -- and walked one while lowering his ERA to 1.74. He has permitted only two runs in 15 2-3 innings during his last two starts, including Pittsburgh's 2-1 victory over the Mets on April 17 in which he didn't figure in the decision.

    Perez didn't fight it when pitching coach Spin Williams began retooling his delivery midway through spring training, though he didn't fully understand why the changes were needed. Perez, 22, had several big strikeout games last season with the Padres and Pirates, but was only 4-10.

    "He's got a temper at times, and he said to me he was still striking out a lot of guys," said Cota, who caught Perez. "But I said to him, `How many wins are you getting?' He's really been outstanding (through the makeover)."

    The Pirates are trying to smooth Perez's delivery to give him better rhythm and keep him from throwing more pitches than necessary.

    "I think it's remarkable he's done the things he's done," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "It's tough enough to pitch at this level, but to pitch while making adjustments is even tougher."

    The biggest problem has been getting him to the mound regularly.

    Perez's scheduled start Friday against the Reds was pushed back to Sunday when the Cubs-Pirates game Thursday was rained out. He wasn't certain when he would have pitched again if Sunday's game had been washed out.

    "He was a little anxious to get out there," Cota said. "He was really pumped up ... and he didn't want to wait through any more delays."

    Perez looked sharp from the start despite a delay that pushed back the starting time to 4:25, retiring eight of the first nine batters. He was in trouble twice, but struck out Barry Larkin to end the third and Juan Castro to end the seventh, both times with runners on first and third.

    Perez was especially effective against Adam Dunn, striking him out three straight times. Dunn came into the game 6-for-17 with four homers and seven RBI against Pittsburgh this season before going 0-for-4.

    "Our left-handers usually hit left-handers, so he obviously must have been throwing pretty well," Reds manager Dave Miley said.

    Mackowiak gave Pittsburgh the lead in the second with his third homer, a one-out drive into the right-field seats on the first pitch he saw from Acevedo. Jack Wilson's RBI double made it 2-0 in the third.

    Castillo, who has four hits in his last two games, followed Cota's single with a two-out homer in the fourth, and Cota added a solo shot with one out in the sixth.

    Acevedo left after allowing five runs and seven hits in six innings.

    "I was feeling good, but that happens in baseball sometimes," he said. "That delay was tough ... but give credit to Perez, he threw a great game."

    Game notes

    Cota started as C Jason Kendall sat out for only the second time this season. ... After the 2 hour, 50 minute wait, the game was played under mostly sunny skies. ... Because of the long delay, the Pirates will allow all fans to exchange tickets for another game, even those who watched the game. ... Castillo and Cota both hit the second homers of their careers. ... The Pirates had dropped six of nine and hadn't won since beating the Mets the previous Sunday. ... Jason Bay, expected to be the Pirates' starting left fielder once he recovers from shoulder surgery, was held out of extended spring training in Bradenton, Fla., for several days because of shoulder discomfort. He is not yet ready to go on a minor league rehabilitation assignment. ... Perez's longest previous start was eight innings against the Dodgers on July 7, while with San Diego.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press