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Perez pitches into seventh

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Oliver Perez celebrated his return to San Diego
with a victory.

Perez pitched into the seventh inning against his former team,
leading the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 4-2 win over the Padres on
Sunday.

Perez, a native of Mexico, faced the Padres in San Diego for the
first time since he was traded to Pittsburgh last August in a
four-player trade. He had a group of about 20 family and friends in
attendance.

"It was special," he said. "I had a lot of family here, so I
tried to focus on the game."

Perez certainly appeared to be able to focus, allowing two runs
and five hits in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out five and walked four.

"Oliver was lights out," said catcher Humberto Cota, Perez's
fellow countryman who also had a group of about 20 friends and
family in attendance.

"I told him to just relax and pitch his game," Cota said. "He
didn't try to do too much."

Perez (7-6) received a huge lift from Randall Simon, who hit a
go-ahead solo homer in the sixth, and Cota, who also had a solo
homer.

Jose Mesa pitched the ninth, getting Khalil Greene to fly out to
right with runners on first and second, for his 32nd save in 34
chances.

Pittsburgh won consecutive road games for the first time since
ending a three-game road winning streak on July 5. The Pirates won
for just the third time in 11 games overall.

Perez also pitched in front of a group of friends and family in
his last start on Tuesday at Los Angeles, a 3-2 loss, but fared
much better this time.

"I was very proud of how he handled himself (Sunday)," manager
Lloyd McClendon said. "He was outstanding. I thought he was much
more under control, a lot more poised."

Perez allowed a two-run homer to Mark Loretta in the third, but
little else. The only other time the Padres threatened against
Perez, he received an assist from Rob Mackowiak. The Pirates right
fielder threw out Rich Aurilia on a one-hop throw to Cota in the
fourth when Aurilia attempted to score from third on Brian
Buchanan's fly ball.

Cota homered off Brian Lawrence (11-9) to tie it at 2 in the
fourth, and Simon's homer leading off the sixth put the Pirates
ahead 3-2.

Craig Wilson added an RBI double in the ninth for the Pirates.

Lawrence failed in his second consecutive start to equal his
career high for wins, and has lost four of his last five decisions.
He allowed three runs and nine hits, and was pulled after he failed
to retire the first three batters of the sixth.

San Diego lost for the sixth time in seven games, all at home.

"When you're falling short, the frustration builds up," Padres
manager Bruce Bochy said.

In Perez's only other start against San Diego, Perez took the
loss in a 7-3 defeat at Pittsburgh on May 19 when he lasted only
three innings.

San Diego threatened in the eighth when Phil Nevin doubled off
the right-field wall against reliever Brian Meadows. Aurilia then
hit a fly ball that Tike Redman caught right in front of the
center-field fence.

"We had our chances," Nevin said. "We didn't make Ollie throw
strikes and we knew we needed to do that. He looked very good at
times, though."

The Padres took a 2-1 lead when Loretta tied a career high with
his 13th homer -- a two-run shot.

In the first, Redman led off with a single and went to third on
Jack Wilson's double. With one out, Rob Mackowiak was walked
intentionally. Lawrence then hit Craig Wilson with his first pitch
to force in a run.

Game notes
This was the first time in four games that Perez failed to
strike out at least 10. ... Lawrence set his career high for wins
last season when he went 12-12. ... Cota's homer was only
Pittsburgh's second in 56 innings. ... Loretta set his career high
in homers last season, his first with San Diego, when he reached
double digits for the first time in his eight-year career.