Pirates snap 10-game skid

CINCINNATI -- History will have to wait until at least Friday night.

The Pirates, careening toward a 16th consecutive losing season that would equal the longest streak in professional sports history, ended a 10-game losing streak with a 3-2 victory against the Reds last night.

"You get in funks and have your ups and downs," Brandon Moss said. "We just went through a prolonged down."

The Pirates, who have 79 losses, finally picked up their 58th victory on the strength of two-out, back-to-back home runs by Moss and Andy LaRoche off Aaron Harang in the second inning, a decent start by Ian Snell and effective work by four relievers, including Matt Capps, who earned his 18th save.

"It was nice to win," manager John Russell said. "It's been a tough road for us."

This was the 20th time in their past 29 games that the Pirates managed no more than three runs, but last night that was enough.

Snell labored through six innings, throwing 99 pitches (59 strikes), but he allowed just one earned run.

  • Game: Pirates vs. Cincinnati Reds, 7:10 p.m., Great American Ball Park.
  • TV/Radio: FSN Pittsburgh, WPGB-FM (104.7).
  • Pitching: RHP Ross Ohlendorf (1-1, 6.53) vs. RHP Edinson Volquez (16-5, 3.04).
  • Key matchup: Ohlendorf vs. some jitters. This will be his first major league start -- and his first opportunity to make a good impression on the Pirates.
  • Of note: Volquez, whose earned run average is over 3.00 for the first time this season, has allowed only 10 home runs in 163 innings.

"He threw OK," Russell said. "If he'd been a little more efficient, he could have gone longer."

The game offered Pirates fans watching on television their first look at infielder Luis Cruz, who has become a bit of an intriguing figure as the team looks to next season.

Signed in December as a minor league free agent, Cruz could become even more intriguing if the Pirates trade shortstop Jack Wilson this winter.

Cruz, 24, made his major league debut last night at shortstop, which was interesting. Shortstop Brian Bixler also joined the team from Class AAA Indianapolis yesterday, but he didn't get the start in place of the injured Wilson.

That could indicate that Bixler, the Pirates' second-round draft pick in 2004, has fallen into a utility role and will only be with the Pirates in the future as a backup middle infielder.

Cruz, from Mexico, originally signed with Boston as a non-drafted free agent in 2000, then was traded to San Diego after the 2006 season. He had a reputation as a shaky fielder -- he made 42 errors in the low minor leagues in both 2003 and 2004 -- and as an inconsistent batter.

However, he showed some defensive promise with Class AA Altoona and batted .264 in 105 games this season. That earned him a promotion to Indianapolis, where he hit .325 with three home runs in 32 games.

Cruz, whose father (also Luis) is a candidate for the Mexican baseball Hall of Fame, also can play second base, third base and center field.

"And I think if we needed him to catch, he could catch," Russell said. "There's some value there."

Cruz wasted no time getting his first major league hit. Batting second, he dropped a broken-bat single down the left-field line in the first inning.

"I worked a lot on my hitting [at Altoona]," Cruz said. "I've been hitting better in this organization."

Snell continued to have trouble in the first inning, in which the opposition is hitting .371 against him. Leadoff batter Chris Dickerson drove a 3-2 pitch just inside the right-field foul pole for his fifth home run and the 21st first-inning run Snell has allowed.

The Pirates received some help from their future to take a 2-1 lead in the second. Moss, hitting .366 over his past 11 games, drove his sixth home run deep into the right-center field bleachers. Three pitches later, LaRoche lifted a 1-1 pitch into the left-field seats.

Cincinnati tied the score in its half of the second when Jay Bruce lined a leadoff single into center field, stole second as Ryan Hanigan struck out and continued to third on Ryan Doumit's throwing error and then trotted home on Corey Patterson's polite single into short right field.

The Pirates regained the lead in the third after a leadoff walk to Snell. Nyjer Morgan's double into right-center moved Snell to third. Snell then scored on Nate McLouth's one-out roller to shortstop.

The Pirates had chances to add on in the seventh and eighth innings but couldn't.

First Published September 3, 2008 4:00 AM


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