PITTSBURGH (AP) -The majors' hottest team was no match for one of its most surprising.
And the surprise is how well the
are pitching a year after their starters were mostly bad and their bullpen was even worse.
allowed two hits over seven innings during Pittsburgh's third shutout in four games and
drove in four runs as the Pirates ended Florida's seven-game winning streak, winning 8-0 on Monday night.
The Marlins began the night with a major league-best 11-1 record and were coming off three consecutive come-from-behind victories
in their final at-bat in Washington. This time, they fell behind 1-0 in the first and never caught up during their first loss
in seven road games.
With four shutouts, the Pirates already have twice as many as they did last season, when their 5.10 ERA was the NL's worst
and the third worst in franchise history. They've cut that by more than two runs per game to 3.08, even while losing 11-1
Sunday to Atlanta. They shut out the Braves 3-0 and 10-0 in the first two games of that series.
The Pirates are 7-6, not a great start but an encouraging one for a club that hasn't had a winning season since 1992.
''We talked in spring training about the expectations, the accountability that was put on the starters to be productive and
give us innings,'' manager
said. ''We didn't do that last year and we suffered. There's urgency there that we've got to be better starting pitchers.''
All those zeros suggests something is working.
''As a staff, I think we get along really well and push each other, and it does seem to be breeding confidence and competition
between us to see who can pitch the best,'' Ohlendorf said. ''I know we're all really happy with how we've done so far and
we feel we'll be able to build on it.''
Ohlendorf (1-2), finally getting some run support, won for the first time in eight starts since being traded to the Pirates
by the Yankees last season. He shut down a team that had scored a combined 16 runs in its previous two games, giving up only
singles to leadoff batters
in the first inning and
in the fourth. Ohlendorf struck out five and walked one.
The Marlins' first three batters reached in the first with the help of shortstop
's error. After that, manager Fredi Gonzalez said, ''I don't think we put a good swing on him (Ohlendorf) the rest of the
night. .. He had a good sinker tailing into right-handers. I think he broke four or five bats.''
finished off the shutout with a scoreless inning each.
The Pirates manufactured a run in their half of the first as
was hit with
's pitch, stole second and scored on
's single. They took advantage of some sloppy play by Florida to keep adding on runs, as the Marlins had three wild pitches,
a balk and issues six walks. The Pirates also stole three bases.
Miller (0-1) threw a run-scoring wild pitch in the fourth, and reliever
committed a run-scoring balk while giving up four runs over 2 1-3 innings, ending the Florida bullpen's streak of 21 1-3 scoreless
After the game, Miller was placed on the 15-day disabled list with an oblique injury.
''I thought that it'll be a little bit of a factor, but I shouldn't haven't any problems pitching through it,'' Miller said.
''But it's not an excuse for some of the pitches I made. It's just not getting any better. I didn't have that second gear
when I wanted to put somebody away.''
Before Miller left,
had a two-run single in the fifth. McLouth hit his fourth homer, a three-run drive off Kensing in the sixth with the Pirates
already up 5-0.
''We don't feel like we have to put up seven or eight runs a game,'' LaRoche said. ''It's great. We know if we put up a couple,
we have a chance to be in the game and we haven't had that luxury in the past.''
LaRoche went 2-for-3 to raise his average to .255 - an improvement for a player whose .179 career average in April coming
into this season was the third lowest of any NL hitter since 1900. LaRoche was 0-for-10 in his previous three games and was
0-for-14 against Florida last season.
The announced crowd on a cool, rainy night was 8,090, but the actual attendance appeared to be about half that.
Notes: The Marlins had scored at least two runs in each of their previous 12 games. ... Pirates C
(sore right wrist) may miss the series. ... Pittsburgh has won the first game of all five series. ... The Marlins will call
up a pitcher Tuesday to replace Miller.