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Nationals overcome Pirates



Published: Wed, June 29, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



A former Mahoning Valley Scrapper got the win.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Ryan Drese redeemed himself for a poor outing.

Drese pitched eight strong innings, and Wil Cordero hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly for his first RBI of the season, giving the Washington Nationals the lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-1 Tuesday night for their 15th victory in 17 home games.

Drese (2-1), who allowed five runs and eight hits over three innings at Pittsburgh on June 21, won a pitchers' duel against Josh Fogg (4-4), winless in five starts since defeating Florida on June 1.

"Outstanding," Nationals manager Frank Robinson said. "That was one of the finer performances we've had this year."

Claimed off waivers from Texas on June 10, Drese, a former Mahoning Valley Scrapper, gave up one run and five hits in eight innings with four strikeouts and no walks. He recorded 15 outs on grounders.

"We didn't change the game plan that much," Drese said. "I was trying to stay on top of the ball and keep it down."

Washington has the best home record in the major leagues at 27-10 and is 15-6 overall in one-run games since May 8.

The Nationals' 19 one-run wins lead the NL.

Chad Cordero pitched a perfect ninth for his major league-leading 26th save, his 23rd straight. He tied the franchise record for consecutive saves set by the Montreal Expos' Mel Rojas in 1996.

Pittsburgh's woes

Fogg allowed two runs -- one earned -- and four hits in six innings. He was victimized by his own wildness in the fourth, when he hit a batter and committed a costly throwing error on a sacrifice bunt.

"We lost because we hit a guy, walked a guy and couldn't execute a bunt," Pittsburgh manager Lloyd McClendon said. "Typically, when you pitch like that you should win on the road. [We] got only five hits. You can't win with that."

Jason Bay had three hits for the Pirates, losers of three of four and 11 of 15.

Pittsburgh took a 1-0 lead in the first when Daryle Ward's bloop single to left scored Bay, who reached on a two-out, ground-rule double to center.

Playing without their injured cleanup hitter, Nick Johnson, and with outfielder Jose Guillen in the lineup despite a painful left shoulder, the Nationals scored twice in the fourth without a hit.

Fogg plunked Guillen on the hand with a pitch, then walked Vinny Castilla. Fogg fielded Marlon Byrd's bunt near the third-base line and threw wildly to third baseman Freddy Sanchez as Guillen scored and Castilla took third.

"Obviously I'd rather make them earn it, hit a two-run homer," said Fogg. "It was one of the better sinkers I threw, but it went to Freddy. What are you going to do about it?"

Wil Cordero, starting in place of Johnson and making only his second start in the field this season, followed with a tiebreaking flyout to right. Cordero is batting just .036 (1-for-28) this season.

"[Cordero] knew what the situation called for. ... He had a plan -- to hit a fly ball," Robinson said. "

Drese worked out of a jam in the seventh after he allowed a leadoff double to Rob Mackowiak and hit Ryan Doumit with a pitch. Jose Castillo bounced into a shortstop-to-home fielder's choice; Jack Wilson struck out and pinch-hitter Tike Redman hit an inning-ending grounder.

"He's a cool customer out there," Robinson said of Drese. "He doesn't get riled up."

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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