Pirates 7, Padres 2

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PITTSBURGH (AP)—Reggie Sanders is hitting like a man who wants to be traded, even if he insists he doesn’t.

Sanders homered twice and drove in five runs in what might have been his next-to-last game with Pittsburgh, leading the Pirates past the San Diego Padres 7-2 Wednesday night.

The Pirates trailed 2-0 until Sanders hit a go-ahead, three-run shot in the fourth off Brian Lawrence (5-13), who lost his fourth straight start and sixth in seven decisions. Lawrence leads the NL in losses.

Brian Giles added a two-run homer in the sixth, a batter before Sanders hit his second homer in as many at-bats and 21st of the season. Sanders has four homers in three games and five in six games.

Sanders played for the last two NL champions, Arizona in 2001 and San Francisco in 2002, and is being looked at by several contenders for the stretch drive. Giles also might be available by Thursday’s deadline for trading without waivers, with his hometown Padres being especially interested.

Sanders is playing for his sixth team in six seasons, but has never been dealt at the deadline.

“I’ll be glad when tomorrow’s over, most definitely, whatever way it goes,” Sanders said. “It’s always in the back of your mind. There’s a lot of uncertainty that goes with it.”

Sanders was thinking about a third consecutive homer when he batted against reliever Luther Hackman in the eighth, but grounded out.

“I saw Matty (Stairs) on second, motioning with his arms, `Calm down, calm down,’ ” Sanders said. “Yeah, it was in the back of my mind.”

Just as the persistent trade rumors are.

Giles got his 200th career homer and 1,000th hit in the same game. Giles’ single in the first was his 1,000th hit, all but 243 with Pittsburgh. What he doesn’t know is many more hits he’ll get with the Pirates.

“I’ve been through this before with Cleveland. Every year, I was supposed to be traded (at the deadline) for Randy Johnson or Curt Schilling, I was supposed to be going somewhere,” Giles said. “You deal with it and go out and play.”

Pirates starter Kip Wells (5-4) got the victory despite fighting at times with his control, walking three and throwing 117 pitches in six innings. He shook off Lawrence’s two-run, two-out single in the second to win his second consecutive start at PNC Park after going 13 months without winning at home.

“As far as results go here, I haven’t had a lot of success, but I don’t think I’ve pitched that badly in a lot of games here,” Wells said.

Wells and Brian Meadows combined on a six-hitter, with Meadows pitching three innings for his first save in 133 major league games.

Lawrence was lifted after allowing seven runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings—the sixth time in his last nine starts he has yielded three or more earned runs. Lawrence has won only once in those nine starts since beating Minnesota on June 8.

Sanders has long been a streak hitter, so Lawrence knew he had little margin of error the way Sanders is hitting now.

“I stuck a ball over the plate (in the fourth) and he hit it out of the park,” Lawrence said. “The same thing happened later.”

Lawrence couldn’t hold the two-run lead he gave himself, giving up Abraham Nunez’s single before walking Matt Stairs with two outs in the fourth. Sanders then hit a 1-0 pitch into the left-field seats.

Another Lawrence walk, to Nunez, led to Giles’ 12th homer of the season. Stairs doubled ahead of Sanders’ third homer in two nights, giving him 11 RBIs in six games.

“The long ball killed us tonight,” Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. “There wasn’t much to say about this one. They outpitched us and outhit us.”

Notes

Lawrence has 11 hits and is batting .256. … Sanders homered in three consecutive games for the fourth time. … The Pirates are 15-12 this month, assuring themselves of their first winning July since they were 15-12 in 1997. It also is their first winning month since April 2002. … The Pirates are 8-24 at home against California teams since moving into PNC Park in 2001. … Pirates 3B Jose Hernandez struck out in all four at-bats, pushing his majorleague-leading total to 135.

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