Pirates 6, Rockies 5

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PITTSBURGH (AP)—Maybe hosting the All-Star game was all the Pittsburgh Pirates needed to regain respectability.

Joe Randa drove in three runs and the Pirates beat the Colorado Rockies 6-5 Wednesday to win their second consecutive series since the All-Star break. Pittsburgh won two series in a row for only the second time this season.

“It’s a real good homestand and a real good start to the second half,” manager Jim Tracy said.

Randa, who began the season as the Pirates’ starting third baseman but lost his job after going on the disabled list, went 2-for-4 and has hit .500 (11-for-22) with nine RBIs in his last five starts.

“I have a lot of confidence in myself and feel like I’m healthy and know I’m doing the things I’m capable of doing,” Randa said. “It was a fun game out there today.”

Ronny Paulino had a two-run double and Sean Casey got two hits and scored two runs for Pittsburgh, which scored all its runs with two outs—three each in the third and sixth.

“That’s why you get three outs in an inning,” Casey said. “Just because you get two quick outs doesn’t mean the inning’s over. We proved that today.”

Zach Duke (7-8) won for the first time in more than a month, allowing four runs and seven hits in six innings, walking two and striking out five. He last won June 14 against St. Louis.

Mike Gonzalez allowed a run in the ninth but got his 15th save, a club record for a left-hander. He struck out Matt Holliday and Ryan Shealy with the bases loaded to end it.

“I was only out there a few minutes, but it seemed like I was there forever,” said Gonzalez, who bested a team record held by four other players, most recently Ricardo Rincon in 1998. “It’s one of those things you’ve got to experience. I kind of had to get to the point where I said, here is my best stuff. Try to hit it and see what you can do with it.”

Shealy had two hits and two runs, and Luis Gonzalez had two RBIs for Colorado, which has lost nine of 10.

“We had a couple opportunities today to get it done and we didn’t get it done,” manager Clint Hurdle said.

Hurdle pointed to the ninth inning, when Jamey Carroll failed to score from second on a single by Garrett Atkins that scored Choo Freeman from third.

“When he hit the ball, I kind of froze,” Carroll said. “I guess I played it too cautious.”

Shealy, who was making his 2006 debut since being recalled from Triple-A on Monday, scored the game’s first run in the second on Freeman’s two-out single.

But the Pirates’ first two-out rally came courtesy of Casey’s double off starter Jason Jennings that scored Jack Wilson. Randa followed with a double that drove in two to give Pittsburgh a 3-1 lead.

“In the big situations, we’ve been swinging the bats more aggressively lately,” Paulino said.

The Rockies took a 4-3 lead with a two-out rally in the sixth, when consecutive doubles by Shealy, Yorvit Torrealba and Luis Gonzalez each drove in a run.

In the sixth, Paulino doubled after three straight two-out singles by Casey, Jason Bay and Randa, and a walk to Jose Bautista to put the Pirates ahead 6-4.

“I feel like I made the pitches to get out of the inning,” Jennings said. “We were winning 4-3 with two outs in the sixth, and end up falling down 6-4. It’s frustrating.”

Jennings (6-8), who has not won since June 20, faced the minimum through three and did not allow a hit until Wilson’s triple. But he ultimately allowed six runs and seven hits in six innings, walking three and striking out two.

“He wasn’t able to get the big outs in both of those big innings,” Hurdle said. “A couple balls dropped in that weren’t hit that hard to score the runs.”

The only other time the Pirates, who also took two of three from Washington last weekend, won two series in a row was when they took six of seven at home from Houston and Milwaukee from May 26 to June 1.

“We’re trying to forget about the first half and not look at the record,” Casey said. “There were 70-some games to go when we started the second half. Let’s go out and play hard in the second half, go out and win ballgames and win series and quit talking about the first half.”


Jennings hit Bautista with a pitch in the third inning, marking the eighth consecutive game the Rockies have hit a batter, a club record. … Sanchez, the NL’s leading hitter, went 1-for-4 and has reached base safely in 14 straight games. … The Pirates have spent only one day out of last place in the NL Central all season.

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