Pirates extend recent dominance of Phillies with surge in 7th

PITTSBURGH -- Garrett Jones and Delwyn Young drove in two runs each during Pittsburgh's comeback six-run seventh inning, and the last-place Pirates beat the sliding Phillies for the third time in four games, 8-5 on Sunday.

Pirates rookie Pedro Alvarez started the rally with his second homer in as many games and drove in two runs, while Jones had three RBIs as the Pirates won their fourth in five games. They are 5-2 since losing 18 of 20.

The defending NL champion Phillies couldn't hold a 5-2 lead in losing their fourth in five games and fifth in seven games heading into an important homestand in which they play NL East-leading Atlanta three times and NL Central-leading Cincinnati four times.

Normally, nothing's more certain than a Phillies victory on Independence Day -- fittingly enough for the team from the city of independence -- but they lost on July 4 for the first time in seven years. They hadn't lost a July 4 road game since 1995 in Pittsburgh.

They looked to have this one secured with Joe Blanton holding the Pirates hitless following a two-run first inning, but Alvarez drove Blanton's curveball into the right-field seats for his fourth hit in two games leading off the seventh. The game began unraveling for the Phillies from there as Ryan Doumit singled and Ryan Church doubled against Blanton, and pinch-hitter Young tied it with a two-run double to left field off Jose Contreras (3-3).

Pirates rookie Jose Tabata, who doubled and scored during the first, made it 6-5 with a run-scoring single and Neil Walker walked before Jones finished off the big inning with a two-run single, only his fifth hit in 34 at-bats.

Evan Meek (4-2), a former Rule 5 pick selected earlier in the day as the Pirates' lone All-Star representative, won it by retiring the Phillies in the seventh following Dane Sardinha's homer off Jeff Karstens. Octavio Dotel secured it in the ninth with his 19th save in 22 tries.

The Phillies, finishing off an unproductive 2-5 road trip to Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, let this one get away despite having thousands of fans who occasionally drowned out the Pirates' own rooters in the holiday crowd of 28,698 in PNC Park.

With Philadelphia down 2-1, Blanton got a three-run third inning going against with a leadoff single. Shane Victorino, who had three hits Saturday in a 12-4 Phillies romp, doubled ahead of Raul Ibanez's RBI single, All-Star Ryan Howard's sacrifice fly and Greg Dobbs' double.

The Pirates' three recently recalled rookie starters -- Tabata, Walker and Alvarez -- combined to give them a 2-0 lead in the first. Tabata doubled, Walker singled and Jones had a run-scoring grounder ahead of Alvarez's RBI single.

Game notes
Meek is the first Pirates reliever who wasn't a closer chosen for the All-Star game since Mace Brown in 1938, before the closer's role emerged. ... Pittsburgh will have a single representative in the All-Star game for the 14th time in 17 seasons. ... Blanton gave up five runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings. He lasted 7 2/3 innings in each of his previous two starts. ... Pittsburgh won the season series 4-2.