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Updated: Saturday, August 30, 2003 6:40 AM EDT
MLB RECAP
Atlanta Braves
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R H E
5 12 1
Pittsburgh Pirates
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R H E
6 11 1
W Tavarez (3-3)
L Cunnane (0-1)
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PITTSBURGH 6, ATLANTA 5
 

PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- Not even the winningest pitcher in baseball could prevent the Pittsburgh Pirates from matching their season-high winning streak.

After Russ Ortiz was taken off the hook in the top of the ninth inning, Jose Hernandez 's RBI single in the bottom of the frame gave the Pirates their fourth straight victory, 6-5 over the Atlanta Braves .

Standing atop the major leagues with 18 wins, Ortiz was roughed up for five runs and seven hits in five innings. But he was spared his sixth loss of the season when Chipper Jones singled in a run with one out in the ninth, tying the game at 5-5.

But with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom half, former Brave Hernandez bounced a 1-1 pitch from Wil Cunnane (0-1) up the middle for a single, plating Jack Wilson with the winning run.

"A crazy ballgame, that's for sure," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "Russ was pretty good tonight. He made one bad pitch and it got hit out of the ballpark. ... Cunnane has been doing a super job, not even an earned run in Triple A. We're more than satisfied with him."

The Pirates have won four straight five times this season, with the most recent streak coming from July 3-6.

"Our guys certainly stepped up," Pittsburgh manager Lloyd McClendon said. "They have been stepping up for quite a while offensively, as good as anybody in the National League since the All-Star break."

The hit made a winner of Julian Tavarez (3-3), who allowed a run and three hits in three innings and failed to convert a save for the second time in five opportunities.

Rob Mackowiak belted a three-run homer and Wilson had two hits for the Pirates, including a single in the first inning that extended his hitting streak to 16 games.

Marcus Giles had three hits and two RBI for Atlanta, which lost for the third time in four games.

With the Braves trailing by a run, Rafael Furcal and Giles opened the ninth with consecutive singles. After Gary Sheffield struck out, Jones grounded a single to right to plate Furcal and tie the game.

Cunnane started the bottom of the inning in relief of Ray King and issued a leadoff walk to Wilson. After a groundout by Jason Kendall moved Wilson to second, Carlos Rivera singled to center. As Wilson rounded third, he slipped and was prevented from scoring.

"The ground just gave out from underneath me," Wilson said. "You're busting your butt, trying to make a play. Even with Andruw Jones coming in pretty strong, (third base coach John Russell ) was going to send me. With a good throw, I probably would have been out. It might have been right for us."

Rivera took second on Andruw Jones ' throw to the plate and Reggie Sanders was walked intentionally to load the bases. Jason Bay flied out to shallow left before Hernandez's base hit drove in Wilson.

"(He) started me with a fastball away, then another fastball out of the zone," Hernandez said. "Finally, he threw a slider and I worked hard and got the ball in play. I hit the right spot, up the middle."

"I have confidence in myself, that's why I'm in there," Cunnane said. "Obviously, the batter did, too, in that situation. I think nine out of 10 times, I get out of that. But it's happened. It's the first time this year, I don't want to see it too many more times."

Ortiz, who entered the night with a perfect 6-0 lifetime mark against Pittsburgh, was staked to an early lead. Furcal and Giles started the game with singles, putting runners on the corners. Sheffield followed with an RBI single to put Atlanta ahead.

The Pirates moved in front in the second, when Bay drew a one-out walk, Hernandez doubled and Mackowiak belted his fifth homer over the right-center field wall.

"I was hoping Ortiz would try to get something past me," Mackowiak said. "When you see a guy batting .220, all you can hope for is that there will be something up in the zone. Fortunately for me, he threw a pitch where he didn't want it."

"One of those pitches where it hit the bat," Ortiz said. "Pretty much the difference in the ballgame. ... The home run was pretty much the only pitch I'd take back."

Mackowiak's homer was Pittsburgh's 38th of August, its highest monthly total since August 1999. The Pirates' franchise record is 43, accomplished in August 1947.

Chipper Jones ' RBI groundout in the fifth drew the Braves within a run, but Pittsburgh rallied for two runs in the bottom half to make it 5-2.

With one out, Wilson singled and Kendall walked. Matt Stairs then drilled a double to left-center to score Wilson, but Kendall was gunned down at the plate for the second out. Sanders was walked intentionally to bring up Bay, who singled to score Stairs.

After a rain delay of 1 hour, 16 minutes, the Braves scored twice in the sixth to cut the deficit to 5-4.

Javy Lopez led off with a single against Brian Boehringer , who relieved starter Salomon Torres . Pinch hitter Darren Bragg drew a one-out walk and Furcal grounded out to advance the runners before Giles smacked a two-run single to center.


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