Pirates turning a profit

PITTSBURGH (AP) — To the fans, there’s nothing like a big winner.

To the Pittsburgh Pirates, losing big hasn’t stopped the team from turning a profit.

Amid their current streak of 18 losing seasons, the Pirates generated profits of more than $29 million in 2007 and 2008. The team’s ownership also paid its partners more than $20 million in 2008.

The financial information was submitted by the Pirates to Major League Baseball and recently obtained by The Associated Press.

According to several top sports economists, the Pirates may be making more money by losing than they could by winning. Team officials say that’s nonsense and that they are working to put a winning club on the field.

On Sunday, a slumping Zach Duke limited the Mets to one run over seven innings and Jose Tabata and Lastings Milledge homered, allowing the Pittsburgh Pirates to salvage the final game of the three-game series by beating New York 2-1.

Duke, a loser of eight of his previous 11 starts, struck out five and walked two to win for only the third time in 13 starts since May 18.

The Pirates, trying to dodge their first 100-loss season since 2001, had lost five in a row and 12 of 13 to fall 43 games below .500 at 40-83. The Mets were denied their first road sweep of an NL opponent this season.

Mets starter Johan Santana (10-8) didn’t allow a hit until Pedro Alvarez’s leadoff single in the fifth.

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