PITTSBURGH (AP)—The Baltimore Orioles probably don’t care if it’s another 26 years before they visit Pittsburgh again.
The Pirates led 3-0 in the first before Bruce Chen (5-4) got an out. The early burst came one night after Daryle Ward and Jack Wilson homered during a four-run eighth inning that helped rally Pittsburgh from a five-run deficit to a 6-5 victory.
“Any time you give up runs in the first like that, it’s tough to come back,” Chen said.
Matt Lawton and Tike Redman doubled in succession to make it 1-0, and Chen walked Jason Bay. Mackowiak followed with a two-run triple into the 410-foot pocket in left-center that is the deepest part of PNC Park.
Chen got the next three batters to strand Mackowiak on third and the left-hander followed with five scoreless innings. But the Pirates added three runs in the eighth on B.J. Ryan’s run-scoring wild pitch and Mackowiak’s two-run single.
Because left-handers hit the left-handed Chen much better than right-handers — .380 to .218—Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon stacked his lineup with four left-handed hitters among his top five, and was immediately rewarded.
Even if he surprised Mackowiak, who unexpectedly found his name on the lineup card.
“I said `Lloyd, Lloyd, you sure I’m playing today?”’ Mackowiak said. “I was surprised, but he’s not a guy who’s overpowering. I was able to get up there with some guys on and some balls fell in.”
But McClendon didn’t think there was any carry-over from Tuesday night’s rally, saying, “Your momentum is pitching well. Our confidence is growing because we’re playing good baseball, we’re keeping the ball down, we’re executing and we’re playing well.”
The Pirates won for the seventh time in 10 games—against the Marlins, Braves and Orioles—and, by taking two of three from Baltimore, have lost only one of their last 11 series, winning eight and splitting two.
The division-leading Orioles lost for the first time in nine road series this season (6-1-2) and in 14 road series (10-1-3) since losing two of three at Texas last Aug. 27-29.
“We’ve got to pick it up, we’ve got to go out and win, and there’s no question this team will do that, this team is like that,” manager Lee Mazzilli said.
The streak of 13 consecutive road series without a loss was the majors’ longest since Atlanta had a 16-series run in 2002 and was one short of Baltimore’s franchise-best streak of 14 straight in 1983.
But then good things rarely happen to the Orioles in Pittsburgh, where they played for the first time since the 1979 World Series. Then, they won two of three there, but dropped the pivotal Game 5 that started the Pirates on a comeback from a 3-1 deficit and a seven-game victory. They also went 0-3 in Pittsburgh during the 1971 World Series, which they also lost in seven games.
Given the early 3-0 lead, Wells (5-4) allowed seven hits over seven-plus innings in improving to 3-0 against Baltimore. He went 7 2-3 scoreless innings in beating Atlanta 3-1 last Friday.
Wells tried to forget about the 3-0 cushion, saying, “Sometimes when I get a lead, I start pitching like I’ve got a lead. Tonight I just focused on putting up zeros, to get these guys out this inning and then go on to the next inning.”
Wells, whose only shutout came in 2002, left after Tejada homered to left, his 17th, to start the eighth. Tejada went 5-for-10 in the series with two homers and three doubles.
That brought on Mike Gonzalez, only hours after McClendon said the left-hander might be wearing down and might not pitch for a couple of days. Gonzalez got all three batters he faced, and Rick White pitched the ninth.
Mackowiak has 20 RBIs in 17 games. … The sellout crowd of 37,438 was the Pirates’ largest on a Wednesday since PNC Park opened in 2001. … Lawton doubled twice and has reached base 16 times in five games. … Orioles 2B Brian Roberts (shoulder) missed his eighth consecutive start. He doubled as a pinch hitter in the ninth. … Chen is 0-2 in his last four starts. Wells has won three of four. … Pittsburgh is 7-3 on a 13-game homestand that continues this weekend against Tampa Bay. … The Pirates already have as many interleague victories in three games (2) as they did all last year (2-10).