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Elster Investment Pays Off for Pirates

April 02, 1997|From Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Pittsburgh's bargain-basement team got off to a winning start Tuesday.

Then again, the Pirates were playing at San Francisco.

Kevin Elster broke a seventh-inning tie with a two-run double for the Pirates, who won at San Francisco for the eighth consecutive time, 5-2.

Pittsburgh, which has the lowest payroll in the majors, made a winner of Gene Lamont, who took over as manager after Jim Leyland left for the Florida Marlins. After the payroll was slashed, only seven players remained from last year's opening-day roster and the Pirates began the season amid universal predictions of a last-place finish in the NL Central.

"I'm just happy we played well," Lamont said. "I guess it's probably more satisfying because of the way people say we're going to play. I don't know how many wins we're going to get. But we're going to play well and we're going to play hard and however many wins that is, that's how many we'll get."

Elster, Pittsburgh's only major free-agent acquisition, said getting off to a good start was a morale booster for the young squad, which has listened to put-downs for weeks.

"All I was thinking about last night was, 'Wouldn't it be great to start the season 1-0?' " he said. "Certainly, we're all aware of what they're predicting for our team and the age of our team, but you still have to go out and play baseball. What's going to be endearing about our club is you're going to see everybody busting their tails. We'll do our best and see what happens."

With the score tied in the seventh inning, 2-2, Al Martin and Mark Johnson hit consecutive one-out singles off Rich Rodriguez. Julian Tavarez, acquired from Cleveland as part of the Matt Williams trade, came on to face Elster.

Elster, who had 99 RBIs last season with Texas, doubled to right-center.

Matt Ruebel pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings to pick up the victory in relief of Jon Lieber. John Ericks pitched a perfect ninth for the save.

Lieber retired his first nine batters and his run-scoring single gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead in the sixth.



WHO: Pittsburgh Pirates

WHERE: Dodger Stadium

WHEN: Friday 7 p.m.; Saturday7:30 p.m.; Sunday 1 p.m.

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