Trevor Hoffman got the final three outs to add career save No. 543 to his all-time best total as San Diego beat the Pirates, 6-5, last night at PNC Park.
The Pirates, trailing, 6-4, had a major threat in the bottom of the eighth inning, loading the bases with no outs against right-hander Heath Bell.
Adam LaRoche, who homered in the second and fourth, struck out. Doug Mientkiewicz lined to center. Pinch-hitter Jose Bautista walked on a 3-2 pitch, forcing in a run, but Jack Wilson popped to shortstop.
Pirates starter Zach Duke, who hasn't won since June 9, allowed seven hits and five runs in six innings.
The Pirates entered the game with momentum they built after their four-game swoon in Denver last weekend. They swept three games in Houston, then pounded the Padres, 9-1, Thursday night.
"We didn't want to slip down so far that it's really an uphill battle," manager John Russell said.
- Box score
- Game: San Diego Padres vs. Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park.
- TV, radio: FSN Pittsburgh, WPGB-FM (104.7).
- Pitching: RHP Josh Banks (2-4, 3.51) vs. RHP John Van Benschoten (1-2, 8.27).
- Key matchup: Padres left-handed batters against Van Benschoten, who has permitted lefties to hit .392 against him.
- Of note: Banks, who has a 6.11 ERA in July, has pitched at least five innings in each of his eight starts, but he has gone six-plus innings in just three of those eight.
San Diego, which lost seven of its first eight games on this 11-game trip, took a 1-0 lead with two outs in the second.
Chase Headley shattered his maple bat and dropped a double down the right-field line, getting second base when a fan leaned over the low railing and touched the ball. Headley scored on Josh Bard's line-drive single to left.
The Pirates drew even with one out in the bottom of the second when LaRoche drove a 1-2 pitch into the right-field seats for his 13th home run.
Mientkiewicz followed with a double into the right-field corner but was left stranded when Duke struck out and Wilson bounced to third.
Mientkiewicz started his third consecutive game at third base.
"He loves to be out there," Russell said. "He wraps himself up in the game and finds a way to be a part of every game. He's a gamer."
The Pirates had a chance to take the lead in the third after leadoff batter Nate McLouth was hit by a pitch. Freddy Sanchez forced McLouth at second. Ryan Doumit doubled into the right-field corner, and third base coach Tony Beasley waved home Sanchez, who was out easily at the plate, defusing the opportunity.
San Diego had no trouble grabbing the lead in the fourth.
With one out, Kevin Kouzmanoff singled to right. Adrian Gonzalez, far and away the Padres' offensive leader, smoked a 3-1 pitch into the center-field seats, lifting his totals to 23 home runs and 78 RBIs.
LaRoche's second home run in the bottom of the fourth made it 3-2.
The Padres boosted their lead to 5-2 with two runs in the sixth.
Brian Giles led off with a line drive into deep center that caromed off McLouth's glove for a double. After Kouzmanoff lined to third, the Pirates walked Gonzalez intentionally.
Headley's soft single into short right drove in Giles and moved Gonzalez to third. Bard's slow tap to the right side got Gonzalez home.
The Pirates had a spectacular opportunity to, at the very least, tie the score in the bottom of the sixth, but some bizarre baserunning snuffed the rally.
A leadoff single by Bay and a one-out walk to LaRoche finished starter Cha Seung Baek.
Right-hander Mike Adams yielded a single to Mientkiewicz just inside first base, Bay scoring and LaRoche moving to third.
Chris Gomez batted for Duke -- and the inning ended when he dropped a single into short right field.
LaRoche scored on the hit, but Mientkiewicz was thrown out at third base. And then Gomez was nailed trying to continue to second on the throw to third.
The Padres added a run off Tyler Yates with two outs in the seventh on a double by Giles and Kouzmanoff's single.
First Published July 26, 2008 4:00 AM