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Torres helps finish off Nationals

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007
 

WASHINGTON - Just when the Pirates' bullpen seemed to be careening toward another disastrous finish Tuesday night, Salomon Torres calmed things down.

Torres tossed a perfect eighth inning, putting a halt to the Washington Nationals' rally. Matt Capps slammed the door in the ninth, as the Pirates held on for a 7-6 victory.

"This is the Salomon that I remember from last year," Torres said. "It's very nice, and I can only get better and build on that.

"It's like they already told me, 'This is what we need you for. Forget that you stunk as a closer. You're the one who's going to pass the baton to Cappy.' "

With the Pirates clinging to a one-run lead, Torres stuck out Nook Logan and Cristian Guzman and got Felipe Lopez on a fly ball to center field.

It was Torres' first hold since being moved into the setup role Friday. Capps got his second save.

"We bent a little bit, bullpen-wise, in the sixth and seventh inning," Pirates manager Jim Tracy said. "But Torres and Capps were terrific.

"That's the Salomon Torres who we know. The stuff he was throwing up there tonight, it wasn't going to be real fun, I don't care who it was walking up there to try to hit against him."

Shawn Chacon (2-0) got his first win in three starts this season, allowing four runs in 5 13 innings. He also went 2 for 3 at the plate.

Jack Wilson hit a solo homer to spark a five-run third inning. The big inning -- four of the runs came with two outs -- erased a 2-0 deficit.

After Wilson homered to left, Chacon singled. Jose Bautista walked. Freddy Sanchez's single scored Chacon to tie the game, 2-2.

Jason Bay walked. On a 3-1 pitch, Xavier Nady smacked a three-run double to left-center field.

It was the kind of clutch hit that eluded the Pirates during their recent homestand against Los Angeles and San Diego.

"That was the first thing Tracy said when I got back to the dugout," Nady said. "Bay and Sanchez both had great at-bats in front of me. It was nice. We needed that."

Nady added a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning. It was his sixth career four-RBI game.

Ronny Paulino hit a solo shot in the sixth inning. That gave the Pirates a 7-2 lead.

However, Chacon faltered in the bottom of the sixth, and the Nationals scored three runs -- and it probably should have been four.

With runners at the corners and a run in, Damaso Marte relieved Chacon. Felipe Lopez hit a double that landed just out center fielder Rajai Davis' reach.

Tony Batista was thrown out at the plate, trying to score from first base. However, a replay indicated Batista might have slid in just ahead of Paulino's tag.

Guzman followed with an RBI triple to the gap in left-center. Lopez scored to make it 7-5.

The Nationals got another run in the seventh to pull within 7-6. They had the tying run at second base, but John Grabow struck out Ryan Langerhans to end the threat.

Washington got no more, thanks to Torres and Capps.

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