Back-to-back homers by rookies help Pirates win

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CINCINNATI (AP)—It’s too early to say if Pittsburgh’s three-way deal at the trade deadline is paying off, but the Pirates can dream, can’t they?

Rookies Brandon Moss and Andy LaRoche, two of the players acquired by Pittsburgh in a six-player deal on July 31, hit back-to-back home runs to help the last-place Pirates snap a 10-game losing streak with a 3-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night.

“Basically, we’ve been pressing the last few games,” said Moss, who had a career-high three hits and is hitting .366 (15-for-41) with four home runs and six RBI in his last 11 games. “It’s hard enough playing baseball and winning games without pressing. It’s a roller-coaster with ups and downs, and we’ve been on a prolonged down.”

Moss and LaRoche were both acquired in a three-way trade on July 31 that sent left fielder Manny Ramirez from the Red Sox to the Dodgers and left fielder Jason Bay from the Pirates to Boston.

The homers helped right-hander Ian Snell win for the second time in three starts. Snell (6-10) lasted six innings, giving up seven hits and two runs—one earned. He struck out five.

Matt Capps pitched a perfect ninth for his 18th save in 23 opportunities.

Chris Dickerson gave Cincinnati a 1-0 lead in the first inning with his fifth homer of the season and second leading off a game for the Reds.

Moss, sent to the Pirates from the Red Sox, hit his sixth home run since joining the Pirates in the second, and LaRoche followed with his fifth overall to give Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead.

“Brandon’s made a lot of strides, I think,” Pirates manager John Russell said, adding that hitting coach Don Long has been working with him on not chasing pitches.

“He’s even laying off strikes—pitches that aren’t good hitting pitches— and that’s helping him center the ball. Andy’s coming along as well.”

The home runs were the 30th and 31st homers allowed by Cincinnati starter Aaron Harang, who trails only Houston’s Brandon Backe in the National League. Harang missed almost a month with a strained right forearm.

“His velocity’s still not quite where you want it to be,” manager Dusty Baker said. “He’s given up a few of those home runs, but when they’re solo like that, they usually don’t hurt you.”

Jay Bruce led off the second with a single, stole second and moved to third on catcher Ryan Doumit’s throwing error as Ryan Hanigan was striking out. Bruce scored on Corey Patterson’s soft lined single to right field.

The Pirates regained the lead in the third on Snell’s leadoff walk, Nyjer Morgan’s double and Nate McLouth’s RBI groundout.

Harang (4-15) allowed five hits and three runs with two walks and four strikeouts in six innings.

“I threw a hanging breaking ball to LaRoche,” Harang said. “A couple of pitches to Moss didn’t go the way I was hoping they would go. I was trying to tie him up with fastballs, but one caught too much of the plate. If there’s a happy zone for left-handers, that’s it.”

Adam LaRoche came close to hitting Pittsburgh’s third homer of the night in the sixth, but Patterson went back to the center field wall, leaped, reached above the fence and pulled LaRoche’s drive back into the ballpark.

Notes

Pittsburgh SS Luis Cruz singled to left field in the first inning in his first major league plate appearance. The Pirates purchased his contract from Triple-A Indianapolis on Tuesday. … RHP Ross Ohlendorf, one of nine players Pittsburgh recalled on Tuesday, was scheduled to make his first career major league start Wednesday. LHP Zach Duke’s start was pushed back to Friday at San Francisco. … The Reds activated RHP Jared Burton from the 15-day disabled list. The reliever hadn’t pitched since July 10 because of a strained muscle in his right side. … The Reds also recalled RHP Ramon Ramirez on Tuesday.

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