Marlins lose for eighth straight time in Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The Florida Marlins are running out of excuses

to explain their mystifying inability to win in Pittsburgh.

Daryle Ward hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the seventh inning

and the Pirates withstood a homer-filled start by Oliver Perez to

beat Florida 5-4 Tuesday night, the Marlins' eighth consecutive

loss in Pittsburgh.

"It's like when you come in here, you're snakebit, no matter

what you do. You make one mistake, and it costs you here," Florida

manager Jack McKeon said. "But it will turn -- hopefully."

The Pirates haven't had a winning season since 1992, yet are

10-1 against the Marlins in Pittsburgh the last four years, a

stretch that includes Florida's 2003 World Series championship

season. They are 7-1 overall against Florida the last two seasons.

The Pirates trailed 2-1 and 4-3 as the Marlins hit three solo

home runs off Perez -- by Carlos Delgado, Juan Encarnacion and

Miguel Cabrera -- but took the lead after reliever Nate Bump (0-2)

quickly retired the first two batters in the seventh.

After Jason Bay singled, Ward hit a 2-2 pitch into the

right-field seats for his 10th homer and the Pirates' 39th in May --

four off the club record for a month set in August 1947 by the

Ralph Kiner-led Pirates.

"A broken-bat single and a curveball that was just a bad

pitch," Bump said, explaining how the inning got away from him.

"It was right where he likes it. It was not a good pitch. You're

feeling like you're in control, but that's not the place where you

want to put it."

Until then, Marlins starter A.J. Burnett was in position to win

for the first time in five starts since April 29 after missing his

last start with an inflamed elbow. All three Pirates runs off

Burnett in six innings resulted from errors by a Florida defense

that had committed a NL-low 25 errors in its first 48 games.

Brian Meadows (1-0) and Mike Gonzalez each followed Perez with a

scoreless relief inning before Jose Mesa pitched the ninth for his

14th save in 16 opportunities and his first save since May 15. Mesa

was 0-4 with two blown saves in his previous six appearances.

"There's nothing like positive results," manager Lloyd

McClendon said. "That's got to make him feel good."

The Pirates scored in the second after catcher Matt Treanor

threw wildly on Perez's sacrifice bunt following Jack Wilson's

single, sending Wilson to third, and Matt Lawton hit a sacrifice


"Maybe we've figured out that any time we make a mistake, the

other team capitalizes on it," Ward said. "When teams make

mistakes against us, we've got to take advantage of them."

Second baseman Luis Castillo misplayed Humberto Cota's grounder

to start the Pirates' fourth, only his second error, and Lawton

walked ahead of Freddy Sanchez's two-run double. Sanchez also

singled in the winning run Monday in the Pirates' 3-2, 10-inning

win over Florida.

"I was really pumped up when he got that hit [Monday]," Ward

said of Sanchez, a utility infielder who has eight hits while

making five consecutive starts. "Here's a guy who doesn't even

know if he's going to make the team, and now he's playing and

really contributing -- it sounds like my story."

Ward, cast off by the Dodgers after hitting .183 in 2003, has 25

homers and 83 RBI in 443 at-bats the last two seasons despite

being sidelined for nearly two months last year by a right thumb


Delgado and Encarnacion hit long solo homers in succession in

the Marlins' fourth, Delgado's 10th and Encarnacion's seventh, and

Cabrera hit his 10th with one out in a two-run Marlins sixth. Mike

Lowell hit a sacrifice fly later in the inning to make it 4-3.

Perez didn't allow a walk -- he had walked 16 in his last 20

innings -- but was again hurt by homers. He has yielded 15 in 53 1/3

innings over 10 starts, 13 to right-handed hitters, and has given

up at least one homer in all but one of his 10 starts.

"I was throwing the ball more in the [strike] zone," said

Perez, who had walked nine in his two most recent starts. "But

they've got a lot of good hitters, and you can't make many mistakes

to them."

Game notes
The Marlins haven't won in Pittsburgh since an 11-1 victory

on Sept. 8, 2002, behind Carl Pavano. ... Florida has dropped six

of seven, scoring only 17 runs in its last six games. ...

Pittsburgh was 15-13 in May, Florida was 13-14. ... Florida is 3-11

in PNC Park, which opened in 2001. ... The Pirates have won

consecutive one-run games at home after losing their first seven

there. .. One of Burnett's fastballs was clocked at 104 mph on the

PNC Park scoreboard.