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  Sunday, May 14 1:35pm ET
Pirates' Benson shows solid stuff

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- This is the best the Pittsburgh Pirates have seen Kris Benson this season -- even if it wasn't nearly as good as they expect him to be.

Benson kept the ball in the park while limiting the Milwaukee Brewers to four hits in eight-plus innings, and Mike Benjamin's take-out slide led to the Pirates' first run in a 3-0 victory Sunday.

Kris Benson
Kris Benson's stuff was superlative, but he says he has yet to have a game in which all four of his pitches are working.
Bruce Aven and Brian Giles hit solo homers as the Pirates beat the Brewers for the second consecutive day after losing seven in a row to them in Three Rivers Stadium.

Benson (3-4) won for the third time in four starts, mostly by avoiding long-ball problems. He surrendered nine homers in his first seven starts, including a pair of solo homers in a 2-0 loss Tuesday to the New York Mets.

"That's the best I've thrown the fastball all year," Benson said. "I kept my fastball down and I got a lot of ground balls. But I'm still waiting for the day that it all comes together, all four of my pitches, and that hasn't happened yet."

Of the 26 runs Benson has allowed, 15 have scored on homers.

"Most of his home runs have been on belt-high pitches," manager Gene Lamont said. "He got out of sync there for a while, but we all know he's got good stuff, and I'm sure you'll see him better later this year."

The Brewers hope they don't.

"It's hard for me to judge because I didn't get anything to hit," said Jeromy Burnitz, who was 0-for-2 with two walks. "But you can see it. Everybody knows he's got great talent."

Benson allowed the leadoff batter to reach four times, but got double-play grounders in three of those innings. The Brewers had two runners on in an inning only once, in the seventh, when Benson walked the first two batters. But Jose Hernandez couldn't get a bunt down before striking out and Marquis Grissom grounded into a double play.

"That cost us," Brewers manager Davey Lopes said. "We had a chance to put pressure on and we didn't execute a fundamental play."

Benson, who struck out three, left after third baseman Luis Sojo misplayed Mark Loretta's grounder for an error starting the ninth. Jason Christiansen finished up for his first save, getting Burnitz to ground into a double play. The Brewers hit into as many double plays (four) as they had hits.

The Pirates, shut out by Jeff D'Amico (1-1) on two hits for five innings, took the lead after Benjamin and Warren Morris singled to start the sixth. D'Amico yielded six hits and two runs, one earned, in seven innings in his first career start against Pittsburgh.

After John Vander Wal walked to load the bases, Brian Giles grounded back to the mound. D'Amico's throw easily beat Benjamin to the plate, but Benjamin's hard slide took the legs out from under catcher Tyler Houston, whose high throw to first base sailed into right field, scoring Morris.

Lamont said, "That was the biggest play of the game."

"That's a good play on Benjamin's part. The guy's coming in hard from third, which is what you're expected to do," Lopes said. "If you're a catcher, you've got to clear yourself out of there. ... We still came out of that pretty good, it was only 1-0, not bad at all. But it looks like 10 runs after the fact."

D'Amico avoided further trouble when Wil Cordero stepped in front of Houston as he struck out swinging and was called for obstructing the catcher's throw to second. Giles was running on the play.

Benjamin left the game an inning later with a bruised right knee.

Aven made it 2-0 by leading off the seventh with his third homer in two days. His first two homers of the season came in the Pirates' come-from-behind 11-8 victory Saturday night.

Giles hit his 11th homer in the eighth, a drive off Valerio de los Santos.

Game notes
The Pirates, winners of eight of 12 this month, scored first for the only time in their 3-3 homestand ... Pirates C Jason Kendall failed to start for the third time, as replacement Keith Osik went 1-for-2 with a double. ... Cordero doubled in the fourth to extend a career-high 12-game hitting streak (23-for-50, .460). ... The Brewers finished 3-4 on their road trip. ... Benson has lowered his ERA from 5.96 to 3.35 over his last four starts.


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