PIRATES NOTEBOOK From PNC Park
Close call: Pirates catcher Keith Osik was on a plane at New York's LaGuardia Airport on Sept. 11 for a trip to Pittsburgh when the FAA grounded all U.S. flights shortly after the terrorist attack. On the Pirates' day off of Sept. 10, Osik had driven his car to his New York home and was flying back for a scheduled game at PNC Park. Because of the closing of the New York airports Thursday and Friday, Osik didn't return to Pittsburgh until Saturday.
Special hats: The Mets have received permission to wear caps with the New York City rescue workers insignias for tonight's game.
East woes: The Pirates have a 5-20 record against National League East Division teams, including a 2-10 mark on the road.
Home sweet home: The last-place Pirates have a 35-37 record at PNC Park and are 20-52 on the road. The Pirates are 14-6 in one-run games at home and 4-14 on the road.
In the clutch: Pirates cleanup hitter Aramis Ramirez began the game leading the National League in hitting with runners in scoring position. His .388 batting average was a point ahead of Colorado's Larry Walker and dropped when he flew out with Jack Wilson at second base in the fourth inning. With 102 RBIs, Ramirez is just the seventh Pirate third baseman to top 100 RBIs and the first since Frank Thomas did it in 1958. Pie Traynor holds the team record of 124 RBIs set in 1928.
Homers: First baseman Kevin Young has 117 homers in a Pirates uniform, tying him with Andy Van Slyke and Dick Stuart for 10th place on the club's all-time list. In three seasons in Pittsburgh, Brian Giles has 107.
On deck: The Pirates and Mets play again tonight and Wednesday afternoon. Wednesday, Tony McKnight (3-3, 3,75) duels against Glendon Rusch (7-10, 4.62).
Final homestand: The Pirates' final seven home games are against wild-card hopefuls St. Louis and Chicago. Friday's and Saturday's games against the Cardinals are sellouts, but tickets are available for the games Thursday and Sunday. The Cubs games Monday through Sept. 26 all begin at 7:05 p.m. Tickets are available.
Ticket exchange: Fans with unused tickets for the Mets series may exchange them for any available seat during the homestand. Tickets must be exchanged at PNC Park ticket windows. The Pirates says those tickets also may be traded for select dates next April and May. Call 1-800-BUY-BUCS for details.
-- Tom Williams