Pirates 7, Reds 0

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PITTSBURGH (AP)—A pitcher taking his first major league at-bat ended Kip Wells’ bid for a perfect game

Wells retired his first 17 batters and combined with Brian Meadows on a three-hitter, leading the Pittsburgh Pirates over the Cincinnati Reds 7-0 Thursday.

Wells (9-8) didn’t allow a hit until two outs in the sixth, when reliever Scott Randall (2-3) singled to right on an 0-1 pitch.

“I really wasn’t thinking about a no-hitter at that point because it was still early,” Wells said. “My main concern was just getting people out. You’ve got to give him credit. He had a pretty good at-bat for a guy who’d never had a plate appearance in the major leagues. I threw him a pretty good sinker in, and he fought it off.”

Randall, who hit .263 (5-for-19) with the Reds’ Triple-A farm team in Louisville, said Wells threw him a fastball.

“Getting my first hit, that was pretty cool, I guess,” Randall said. “But the scoreless game was my main concern.”

Randall tried to advance to second on a pitch in the dirt but was thrown out by catcher Jason Kendall.

Wells, who had been 0-3 against the Reds, allowed two hits in seven innings, struck out four and walked two. He threw only 93 pitches but was removed from the game because of soreness in the ball of his right foot.

“He certainly would have stayed in the game (if the no-hit bid was alive), but I didn’t want to push him,” Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said.

The game was moved from 7:05 p.m. to 12:35 p.m. in anticipation of bad weather related to Hurricane Isabel. While the announced attendance was 10,390, it appeared only a few thousand were on hand.

“It was different, but it was kind of fun,” Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson said. “You got to hear what a lot of people had to say, a lot of opinions.”

Pittsburgh defeated Cincinnati 11 times in 16 games this year, the first time the Pirates beat the Reds 11 times in a season since 1961.

“Sometimes you just match up better with some teams than others,” McClendon said. “I don’t know if there’s really any technical explanation for it, other than we just play well against them.”

Pittsburgh won three of four in the series and improved to 37-40 at home. The Pirates have a chance for their first winning record at PNC Park, which opened in 2001. Four home games remain on the schedule, starting Friday with a doubleheader against the Chicago Cubs.

Reds starter John Bale left after he strained his right hamstring running out a grounder in the top of the third. Randall came in and pitched 3 1-3 innings, giving up four runs and five hits.

Pittsburgh took a 4-0 lead in the sixth when Randall threw a wild pitch with the bases loaded, intentionally walked Craig Wilson, forced in a run with a walk to pinch-hitter Rob Mackowiak, then allowed a two-run single to pinch-hitter Matt Stairs.

Cincinnati loaded the bases with one out in the seventh, but Wily Mo Pena popped out and Dernell Stenson hit into a fielder’s choice. Kendall hit an RBI single in the seventh. The Pirates added two runs in the eighth on JeffReboulet’s infield single and a throwing error by reliever Chris Reitsma.

Notes

For the second straight day, the Pirates (71-81) avoided ensuring their 11th consecutive losing season. … The Pirates were 8-21 in their first 29 homes games but are 29-19 at PNC Park since then. … Reds 1B Sean Casey got the day off. … The Pirates didn’t get a hit until Tike Redman singled to lead off the fourth. Redman extended his hitting streak to 10 games. … Bale was scheduled to fly to Cincinnati, instead of accompanying his team to Philadelphia, so that he could get his hamstring checked Friday. … If Friday’s doubleheader against the Cubs is rained out, the teams probably would play back-to-back doubleheaders Saturday and Sunday. … The Pirates havepitched 10 shutouts, and the Reds have been blanked eight times.

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