NATIONAL LEAGUE Kent leads Giants to 11-6 rout of Bucs
He hit a homer and two doubles, and drove in a career-high seven runs in PNC Park debut.
By TOM WILLIAMS
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
PITTSBURGH -- Count San Francisco Giants second baseman Jeff Kent among the visiting major league players who doesn't miss Three Rivers Stadium.
In his PNC Park debut Tuesday, Kent homered once and doubled twice and equaled his career-high with seven RBIs as the Giants walloped the Pittsburgh Pirates, 11-6.
Despite his three extra-base hits, the former Cleveland Indians second baseman who was the National League's MVP in 2000, offered some landscaping advice for the groundskeepers.
"It's a nice ballpark, but they've got to get rid of those things growing out there that get in the [batters'] eyes," said Kent of the center-field greenery.
"With those white bushes and evergreens, it's hard to see the ball out of those trees out there," Kent said. "It's just something that's different."
Pitching woes: Once again, lousy starting pitching triggered the blowout of the Bucs. This time, Ramon Martinez, who was signed three weeks ago after being released by the Boston Red Sox, suffered his second loss in four starts for the Pirates.
The 33-year-old older brother of Pedro Martinez didn't survive the third inning.
Relievers Terry Mulholland and Joe Bemiel didn't fare much better as the defending N.L. West champs pounded out 14 hits.
Marvin Benard broke a scoreless tie in the third inning with a home run. Martinez then walked Rich Aurila and Barry Bonds to set the table for Kent's three-run shot into the left-field seats and a 4-0 lead.
With two outs, Martinez hit Benito Santiago with a pitch and was replaced by the 38-year-old Mulholland.
"In that one inning, Martinez had absolutely no sense of [pitch] location," said Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon.
McClendon said he is considering removing Martinez from the starting rotation.
"But in order to do that you need alternatives," McClendon said.
The Pirates cut their deficit to 4-2 in the bottom of the third when Jason Kendall walked and Emil Brown hit a two-run homer off winning pitcher Kirk Rueter (3-2).
Big fourth inning: But the Giants scored four more runs off Mulholland in the fourth inning for an 8-2 lead.
Pedro Feliz singled, was sacrificed to second by Rueter and scored on Benard's single. After Aurila singled, Mulholland walked Bonds, loading the bases for Kent, who doubled over center-fielder Brown for three more RBIs.
Armando Rios tagged Mulholland for another run in the fifth inning with a solo homer.
McClendon said Mulholland is not being considered as a rotation replacement for Martinez.
Positives for the Pirates were few until the eighth inning.
Twenty-four-year old rookie Craig Wilson connected for a pinch-hit home run in the fifth inning for his first major-league hit.
And Bonds, the former Pirates outfielder who still draws boos nine seasons after he departed, wasn't a factor. With 11 home runs in April, Bonds was pitched to cautiously, earning four walks.
In the sixth inning, Bonds was erased trying to score from third base on a fielder's choice. An inning later, Beimel struck him out.
Rally falls short: In the eighth inning, the Pirates scored two runs on John Vander Wal's bases-loaded double down the right-field line.
But the late threat ended when Enrique Wilson struck out and Derek Bell flew out to center field.
"We try to pull positives out of every defeat," McClendon said. "It became pretty difficult to be out there, but we came within one hit of making the game very interesting."