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Updated: Tuesday, July 20, 2004 10:58 PM EDT
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PITTSBURGH 2, MONTREAL 1
 

PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- Livan Hernandez made just one bad pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates . It was a mistake he did not recover from.

Rob Mackowiak hit a two-run homer off Hernandez in the opening inning as the Pirates edged the Montreal Expos , 2-1.

Jason Kendall opened the bottom of the first against Hernandez with a single and, one out later, Mackowiak hit a 2-2 pitch over wall in right-center field for his 14th homer of the season.

The versatile Mackowiak, who got the call at third base, also started two inning-ending double plays.

"We're here to win ballgames," Mackowiak said. "To do something to help us win is a bonus. When you come in and know your going to play it makes a difference. You can work at one position and not three or four positions. To be comfortable is the main thing."

Following Mackowiak's homer, Hernandez (6-10) faced the minimum number of batters en route to his fifth complete game of the season.

"Other than the home run, Livan was in complete control," Montreal manager Frank Robinson said. "You had a feeling we would have a good chance to win the ballgame."

Hernandez recorded his 36th career complete game. "It was a very good game," Hernandez said. "It was very important I pitch good. I blew it. I threw him a pitch down and he got it. After that all my pitches were working."

Pirates rookie starter Sean Burnett (4-2) won his fourth straight start. He allowed one run and eight hits in seven innings. Burnett has given up just three runs in his last 28 innings.

"Burnett has great make up. He certainly loves to compete," Pittsburgh manager Lloyd McClendon said. "He's still young. He made some mistakes tonight. It was certainly a battle. Hernandez threw tough. You knew he was going to be around at the end."

Burnett quickly is learning what it takes to win.

"I battled through a lot of the innings to come out on top," Burnett said. "Our defense was outstanding, Mackowiak made some great plays. (It) definitely helped out a lot because I was behind a lot of guys. To pick me up like that was great."

Jose Mesa collected his 26th save, working around a hit and a walk in the ninth.

Pittsburgh has won 11 of its last 12 home games, and 16 of 21 overall. The Pirates gained a split of the two-game series against the Expos but Montreal took the season series, 4-2.

Montreal's lone run came in the fourth inning when Brian Schneider singled to shallow center, scoring Brad Wilkerson . The Expos have scored the fewest runs in the National League with just 309.

"We got off to a start we'd like to have back," Wilkerson said. "It was a tough loss tonight. We had our chances. We had our chance in the ninth. You (have to) give Burnett credit. It seems like the Pirates and us always have quality ballgames.

"There are a lot of similarities in our teams. We may not have the biggest names in the big leagues, but we go out and play hard."

The game lasted just two hours, 14 minutes.


© 2005 STATS, Inc
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