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Pirates Put End to Bad Streak

Fourth-inning incident gives Pittsburgh a spark as it hangs on for a 12-9 victory over Tampa Bay.

June 15, 2003|From Associated Press

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Pittsburgh Pirates ended one of their longest slumps of the season by getting clutch hits -- and throwing some punches.

Aramis Ramirez drove in four runs with a three-run double and a homer, and the Pirates ended a six-game losing streak with a 12-9 win over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Saturday night.

Four players were ejected during a bench-clearing brawl that started after Marlon Anderson was hit by a pitch by Pirate starter Josh Fogg in the fourth inning.

"Both teams have been struggling. Things got out of hand a little bit," Anderson said. "If it's something that can spark us to start playing better baseball, hopefully it's something we can build on."

Jack Wilson had four hits -- three doubles -- for Pittsburgh, which is off to its worst June start (2-9) in more than a century.

Pittsburgh had season highs for runs and hits (17) but nearly blew a nine-run lead. The Devil Rays scored six times in the ninth before Mike Williams got Carl Crawford, who had a sacrifice fly earlier in the inning, to hit a forceout to shortstop Wilson with the bases loaded to end it.

"I'm proud of our team for not laying down. It showed a lot of spunk to me," said Tampa Bay Manager Lou Piniella, whose team has lost eight of nine. "We just fell short. You'd much rather see that than just an easy 1-2-3 inning and the ballgame being over."

The fight began with two outs in the fourth, when Anderson argued with Pittsburgh catcher Jason Kendall as he walked up the first-base line. Anderson used his forearm to knock off Kendall's mask, sparking benches and bullpens to empty.

"Just kids having fun," Pirate Manager Lloyd McClendon said.

Kendall and Anderson were ejected by home-plate umpire Mark Wegner, as were Pirate reliever Julian Tavarez and Devil Ray reserve outfielder Al Martin.

Tavarez admitted he threw some punches but only after a Tampa Bay player he couldn't identify began choking him from behind.

The Devil Rays weren't buying his explanation.

"You look at the film and I think everything would have quieted down, but Tavarez came out of the bullpen and started throwing some right hands," Piniella said.

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