Pirates 8, Giants 6, 11 innings

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PITTSBURGH (AP)—Despite Jose Mesa’s recent struggles, the Pittsburgh Pirates are glad to have him as their closer.

“He’s done a pretty darn good job for us this year, but nobody’s perfect,” Craig Wilson said. “It happens from time to time, but I’ll take his 32 saves anytime. We just fought tonight and were able to overcome it.”

Mesa blew his second save opportunity in as many games Wednesday by allowing Ray Durham’s tying homer in the ninth, but Wilson hit a two-run homer in the 11th to lead Pittsburgh past the San Francisco Giants 8-6 for its fourth straight victory.

On Tuesday, the Giants got a ninth-inning homer from Michael Tucker off Mesa to tie the game at 7 before losing 8-7.

“Mesa’s been outstanding the first four months of the season,” Jason Bay said. “That stuff is going to happen. It’s unfortunately happened in back-to-back games, but nobody’s perfect. It says a lot that we bailed him out. It shows the character of the team.”

In the 11th, Bay led off with a single for his fourth hit. Wilson followed with his 20th homer of the season to right field off Dustin Hermanson (4-5). The loss was the Giants’ seventh in their last 11 games.

“Well, you can’t give up,” Hermanson said. “There’s still 40-some games left to play. But it’s a tough one to swallow.”

John Grabow (2-4), the sixth Pittsburgh pitcher, worked the 11th. He allowed a leadoff single to J.T. Snow and walked Durham before retiring Dustan Mohr on a fly ball. Grabow then caught Neifi Perez’s line drive and doubled Snow off second base.

That play bolstered the confidence of Grabow, who faced four batters Tuesday and didn’t get any of them out.

“I needed that,” Grabow said. “I needed to prove myself after yesterday’s fiasco.”

The Pirates, who entered with the third-fewest homers in the National League, produced seven of their runs off homers. Jose Castillo’s two-run homer in the fourth inning off starter Kirk Rueter gave the Pirates a 6-4 lead. Bay’s three-run homer off Rueter in the first, his 15th, erased a 3-0 Giants lead.

“I wasn’t thinking homer there,” said Bay, who also singled in a run in the third inning after Jack Wilson hit his NL-leading 11th triple. “I’m just trying to hit the ball. Rueter was keeping the ball away, and I was just trying to hit it to right field and put us in position to get back in the game.”

Craig Wilson was 0-for-5 before his game-winning homer.

“Castillo and Bay just went with the ball, and I took an outside pitch to right field, too.”

The Pirates turned four double plays in the game.

“I don’t even want to comment on that,” manager Felipe Alou said. “Every time we hit a groundball, it was a double play. We had many opportunities to win the game. Guys are fighting to the last pitch. Some good things happened, but also some bad things happened.”

Pittsburgh starter Sean Burnett walked five and allowed four runs and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings.

The first five San Francisco batters reached base against Burnett as the Giants built a 3-0 lead. Durham, Mohr and Pedro Feliz all singled to load the bases, and Barry Bonds drew the first of his three walks. Edgardo Alfonzo followed with a two-run single.

Pittsburgh needed only three batters to tie it. Jason Kendall singled, Jack Wilson walked and Bay hit Rueter’s first pitch over the right-field wall for his 15th homer.

After Bay’s RBI single, the Giants tied it in the fourth when Grissom singled and scored on a double by Cruz.

Notes

The Pirates already have their first winning season against San Francisco since going 8-3 in 1997 … Burnett was the first left-handed pitcher the Giants faced in 17 games since losing to San Diego’s David Wells July 22 … Bonds walked three times, twice intentionally, and was 0-for-2.

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