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Updated: Sunday, July 6, 2003 7:10 PM EDT
MLB RECAP
Houston Astros
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
3 4 0
Pittsburgh Pirates
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
8 14 2
W D'Amico (6-8)
L Miller (5-9)
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PITTSBURGH 8, HOUSTON 3
 

PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- The Pittsburgh Pirates are finally starting to build an advantage at home.

Jeff D'Amico tossed his first complete game of the season and Aramis Ramirez drove in four runs as the Pirates completed a three-game sweep of the Houston Astros with an 8-3 victory.

Pittsburgh is just 19-26 at PNC Park for the major leagues' fourth-worst home record. But the Pirates have won 11 of their last 16 home games after their fourth sweep here and first since June 7-9, 2002.

"We were winning on the road, but now we've started to pick it up here at home, too," Ramirez said. "The home fans deserve to see better baseball from us. Everyone here is playing well, hitting well and pitching well. That's the way it is."

Pittsburgh completed a 6-3 homestand and has won four straight after sweeping Houston for the first time since May 28-30, 1999.

"It's nice to win and play well at home," Pirates catcher Jason Kendall said. "This was a good homestand for us. We need all 25 guys in here to contribute. You're not going to win every game, but it's nice to see us come out on top."

"We didnt come to Pittsburgh and expect to be swept by the Pirates," said right fielder Orlando Merced , a former Pirate. "They are starting to play well at home. You have to give Jeff credit, he pitched very well."

D'Amico (6-8) allowed just two earned runs and four hits in his fourth career complete game. He threw 62 of 90 pitches for strikes and fanned three while walking one.

"I was just trying to make pitches, get to the dugout as quickly as I can," D'Amico said. "As a starting pitcher, you always want to have the possibility of a complete game. I was low in the pitch count, I'm glad that (manager Lloyd McClendon ) kept me out there."

D'Amico also had two singles for his first career multi-hit game.

After going 170 consecutive games without a complete game, the Pirates have had two in a span of seven days. Jeff Suppan ended the streak with a complete game victory here on June 29.

Abraham Nunez opened the scoring with a two-run double in the second inning and Brian Giles and Jack Wilson hit solo homers in the third as Pittsburgh jumped out to a 4-0 lead.

Ramirez belted a three-run homer in the sixth inning and added an RBI single in the eighth to help the Pirates pull away.

Houston starter Wade Miller (5-9) surrendered seven runs and 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings.

"Pittsburgh has good hitters," Astros manager Jimy Williams said. "Miller had a problem with his location, he was throwing good stuff. D'Amico pitched well, we move on."

D'Amico retired the first 10 batters before allowing a one-out single to Geoff Blum in the fourth inning. Jeff Bagwell reached on an error and Lance Berkman 's groundout plated Blum and brought the Astros within 4-1.

Miller worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth inning but did not survive the sixth. Kenny Lofton doubled with one out and Kendall extended his hitting streak to 11 games with an infield single.

Ramirez followed with his eighth homer of the season and first since June 21 to chase Miller and give Houston a 7-1 cushion.

D'Amico allowed an RBI single to Merced in the seventh but retired the next six batters. He allowed a two-out homer to Berkman in the ninth and hit Morgan Ensberg before Merced was retired on a comebacker.

"I thought I would get through the ninth unless something crazy happens out there," D'Amico said. "The homer didn't bother me."


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