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NATIONAL LEAGUE Nationals squander lead, but still beat Pirates, 5-4



Published: Thu, June 23, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Jose Guillen hit a pair of home runs as Washington won two of three games.

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The Pirates could not wait to see Jose Guillen leave Pittsburgh in 2000. Five years later, they feel much the same way.

Brian Schneider's softly hit go-ahead single in the eighth inning traveled barely 150 feet in a game featuring mostly long home runs, two by Guillen, and the Washington Nationals came back after squandering an early lead to beat the Pirates 5-4 Wednesday.

Guillen's second two-homer game in three days came as the teams combined for five homers in the first three innings, helping Pittsburgh take a 4-2 lead Josh Fogg couldn't hold.

Guillen, a former Pirates player cast off to Tampa Bay in a seemingly minor deal in 2000, went 8-for-14 with four homers, a double and six RBIs as Washington took two of three in the series. He has four multi-homer games this season and eight in his career.

Traded away

Despite driving in 84 runs during a promising rookie season in 1997, Guillen was dealt after the Pirates wearied of his frequent bouts with immaturity and a sometimes casual approach to conditioning. Still, Pittsburgh remains one of Guillen's favorite stops in the majors.

"I like to come here and play -- it's always going to be a place where I like to come," Guillen said. "And I got some good pitches to hit."

As far as Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon is concerned, far too many.

"Knowing the young man as we do, knowing his strengths and weaknesses, it's really shameful we let him go out and dominate us. We should be ashamed," McClendon said.

There was plenty of blame to go around in the Pirates' eighth loss in 10 games, especially after a botched pickoff of Guillen allowed Washington to tie it at 4 in the fifth.

Costly mistake

Jamey Carroll was hit by Fogg's pitch and moved to third on Guillen's single. Fogg appeared to pick Guillen off first, but Guillen stayed in a rundown long enough for Carroll to score.

"It's one of those plays you practice 100 times in spring training," Fogg said. "It was a big run."

When shortstop Jack Wilson flipped the ball to first baseman Daryle Ward, Carroll gambled and took off.

"We talked about it the other day, that he's a left-handed first baseman and he's going to have to take the ball, turn, pivot and set his feet to throw," Carroll said. "I took a chance because I knew he had to spin and it would be a tough throw for him."

Hector Carrasco (3-1) pitched 12/3 scoreless innings for the win. Mike Gonzalez (0-3) took the loss after walking Ryan Church and Junior Spivey with two outs in the eighth, ahead of Schneider's opposite-field single into short left field.

Close call

Humberto Cota nearly tied it with two outs in the ninth, but Church slammed into the wall at the 378-foot mark to run down Cota's long drive.

The Nationals won their 18th in 23 games and completed a 5-4 road trip against the Angels, Rangers and Pirates.

Chad Cordero pitched the ninth inning for his 23rd save in 25 opportunities and his 20th in a row. Thirteen of his last 17 saves have come in one-run games, which the Nationals have dominated with a 15-5 record.




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