Mackowiak#039;s HR rallies Pirates over Reds

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 11, 2003

CINCINNATI - Rob Mackowiak's home run saved Oliver Perez from a tough loss and gave their manager a milestone win.

Mackowiak hit a pinch two-run homer off Chris Reitsma in the ninth inning Wednesday night, giving Pittsburgh a 3-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds and Lloyd McClendon his 200th win as the Pirates' manager.

''After a win like that, sure they feel good,'' said McClendon, puffing on a celebratory cigar. ''I'd like to have gotten it a lot quicker. I hope the next 200 come a lot quicker.''

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The Pirates won for just the second time this season when trailing after eight innings. They scored six runs in the ninth on Aug. 1 to beat Colorado 12-11.

Craig Wilson opened the ninth with a single off Reitsma (9-5). Mackowiak, batting for Jason Bay, then hit a 2-0 pitch deep into the right-field bleachers for his sixth homer of the season and fifth in 18 games since being recalled from Triple-A Nashville on Aug. 19.

''Obviously, to come in and help the team win is big,'' said Mackowiak, who opened the season with Pittsburgh before being sent down June 8. ''With a 2-0 count, there was a pretty good chance that he was going to come in with the fastball. He throws pretty hard. It was just in my zone.''

Reitsma had converted six consecutive save opportunities and seven of his last eight.

''I was trying to get him to beat in the dirt so we could get two (outs), but I got it up, and he put it where he should have,'' said Reitsma, who has six blown saves in 13 chances overall.

The Reds struck out 12 times to set the club record for strikeouts in a season with 1,189, one more than last year. This is the third consecutive season that they have set the single-season strikeout record. Cincinnati has struck out 10 or more times in 40 of their 145 games.

Perez, a 22-year-old lefthander acquired Aug. 26 from San Diego in the Brian Giles trade, retired the first nine batters he faced - six with strikeouts - before walking Juan Castro to start the fourth. He didn't allow a hit until Ruben Mateo singled with two outs in the fifth.

Perez allowed three hits and one walk in seven innings while striking out 10. He hasn't won since beating St. Louis for the Padres on July 22.

''It's a shame we didn't score some runs earlier to get him the win,'' Mackowiak said.

''I was happy Mackowiak got the home run,'' Perez said through interpreter Abraham Nunez. ''It would've been a tough game to lose, but it really only matters if the team wins.''

The Pirates were leading 1-0 in the seventh when Russell Branyan hit a one-out, ground-rule double down the left-field line off Perez. An out later, Wily Mo Pena was hit by a pitch. Mateo, who hadn't started since Aug. 29 due to a sore right hamstring, followed with a double to right-center that bounced over the wall and scored Branyan and Pena.

Todd Van Poppel, who made his second start of the season and first for the Reds, allowed one run and six hits and didn't walk a batter in six innings. He tied his career high with nine strikeouts, which he's reached on two previous occasions.

Pittsburgh took a 1-0 lead when Nunez led off the third inning with his third homer of the season.

Notes: Pittsburgh's Jose Hernandez went 0-for-4 to remain hitless in 26 at-bats in September. … Van Poppel became the 15th pitcher to start for the Reds this season, tying the club record set in 1912 and matched in 1945 … Jason Kendall went 3-for-4 to give him 14 multihit games in his last 29. He is hitting .423 (47-for-111) in that span … Nunez has six hits in 11 at-bats after going 1-for-16 over his previous eight games … Pittsburgh improved to 23-24 in one-run decisions … The Reds fell to 27-19 … McClendon became the 12th manager to win 200 games with Pittsburgh. He is 200-267 in three seasons … The Pirates improved to 34-40 on the road, matching last season's total of road wins.