Park, Padres dominate Bucs; rainy game called after six

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- When it rains on the Pittsburgh Pirates this
season, it certainly pours.

Chan Ho Park shook off a series of poor starts to hold Pittsburgh without a run and Mike Piazza and Brian Giles homered
as the San Diego Padres beat the Pirates 7-0 on Friday night in a game played in a near downpour before being called after six innings.

The Pirates decided to delay the start by two hours even though little rain was falling, only to have the rain increase significantly just before the game began. Umpire crew chief Gerry
Davis chose to play through the constant rain, even as large puddles formed behind third base, between first and second and near the batter's box.

The weather and the Padres made for a miserable night for the Pirates, who are 15 games below .500 (20-35) despite winning six of their previous seven.

"You'll see them play [in a heavy rain] if they've got to get the last half of an inning in, but never for a whole game," Padres infielder Mark Bellhorn said. "Anybody could have gotten hurt. There were puddles everywhere in the infield."

The long wait puzzled Pirates outfielder Jeromy Burnitz, who recalled how the Pirates played in similar conditions in New York last month.

"It's bad when you've got to wait two hours to play for two hours in the rain," he said. "You think they would have started on time. They're obviously committed to playing in the rain, so you would think they would commit to starting on time."

The field was so wet that Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson nearly
slipped while fielding one groundball that splashed to him through a puddle. Several inches of standing water gathered on the outfield warning track and, according to the Pirates, the grounds crew used 4½ tons of quick-drying material, or 200 bags.

"The infield was a complete mess, the balls to Wilson and [Padres shortstop Khalil] Greene, they hydroplaned to them," Giles said. "That's as bad as I've seen it. We wanted to get on top early, not knowing how long the game is going to go."

The Padres had no trouble solving Pirates starter Oliver Perez (2-6), who was coming off three strong starts in which he gave up four runs in 20 innings.

Eric Young and Giles singled in the first before Piazza hit his 27th career homer against the Pirates, a drive that easily reached the seats behind the 410-foot mark in left-center, the deepest part of PNC Park. Perez thought he had struck out both Giles and Piazza looking but didn't get either call.

After that, Perez never found a groove while throwing 88 pitches over three innings, giving up nine hits and five runs as the Pirates' four-game winning streak ended. In the second, Josh Barfield doubled and scored on the first of Park's three singles. It was the second three-hit game of the season for Park, who is hitting .400 (8-of-20).

Giles, a former Pirates outfielder sent to the Padres in the deal that sent Perez and Jason Bay to Pittsburgh, made it 7-0 in the fourth with his sixth homer, off reliever Ryan Vogelsong.

"They started out and scored on us and the weather didn't let up at all, so you knew it was going to be tough," Pirates manager Jim Tracy said. "The field got to the point where they couldn't do any more with it. The damage was done early and there wasn't much else you could do."

While Perez had been pitching well -- he took a shutout into the ninth inning Sunday of a game that Pirates eventually lost 5-4 to Houston -- Park had allowed 18 runs in 18 1/3 innings as the Padres lost his previous three starts.

But the Pirates couldn't solve Park (3-3) as a hitter or a pitcher. The right-hander gave up five hits, struck out eight and walked two in winning for only the second time in eight starts
since April 19.

Game notes
San Diego scored more runs in six innings than it did (five) in a three-game series against Colorado this week. ... Pirates second baseman Jose Castillo went 0-of-3 after going 9-for-13 with four homers and 14 RBI during a four-game sweep of Milwaukee. ... By losing, the Pirates missed a chance to exit last place in the NL Central for
the first time this season. ... San Diego's Adrian Gonzalez singled to run his hitting streak to 11 games (13-for-38, .342). ... The Padres have won four of five.