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Pirates

Bucs' Snell snaps victory drought

| Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ian Snell didn't sleep well after the Pirates' tough ninth-inning loss to the last-place Nationals on Tuesday night.

"I kept telling myself, 'We need a win. We need a win,' '' Snell said. "All night. I haven't gotten much sleep in the past couple of days."

Snell rested well last night.

The right-hander limited the Washington Nationals to one earned run in six-plus innings and won for the first time since early April with a 3-1 victory over the Nationals.

"It was real important to get this win," Snell said. "I'd like to see our team do something special here and I think we are going to do something special."

Ryan Doumit went 3 for 4 with his eighth home run of the season, a solo shot in the fifth inning. Doumit is 7 for 8 with three home runs and four RBI in the first two games of the series.

Snell had been 0-6 in his past 10 starts since beating the Cincinnati Reds on April 12 in the Pirates' 11th game of the season, and was 4-13 in 23 starts dating to the 2007 All-Star break.

He allowed six hits with six strikeouts and three walks in his longest outing in more than a month.

Closer Matt Capps, one night after blowing his first save of the season, pitched the ninth for his 16th save, and third in four days.

Earlier in the day, manager John Russell said he would be reluctant to use Capps, who had pitched in each of the past three games. But Capps lobbied his manager during batting practice

"I told him I could go if he needed me," Capps said. "I know it's not my call, but I feel like I can go and I want to go."

Capps walked pinch-hitter Ryan Langerhans to open the ninth, but got Cristian Guzman to line out and induced Elijah Dukes, who doubled as part of the Nationals' ninth-inning rally on Tuesday, to ground into a game-ending double play.

It marks only the second time that Capps has pitched in four consecutive games for the Pirates.

"He said he felt fine," Russell said. "He said he felt really good. I was very pleased not only that he got the save, but his velocity there. That's the kind of guy he is. I'm sure he's going to want to pitch tomorrow, too."

The win moved the Pirates closer to the elusive .500 mark (32-34) and gave them only their second win over the Nationals in six meetings this season.

John Lannan (4-7) took the loss for the Nationals. He allowed two earned runs in six innings.

It was a long-awaited win for Snell, who had pitched well at times over his two-month drought but was never rewarded.

"I think it will be nice for him," Russell said. "He's been working awfully hard the last couple of weeks. We have seen very good signs. He is turning the corner. We have seen it. What he did tonight is still in the same direction."

Snell downplayed his win and focused on the Pirates' moving to within two games of .500.

"It feels good, but I'm not really worrying about personal stuff," Snell said. "But as long as the team wins, I'm happy."

Tom Gorzelanny (4-5, 6.83 ERA) will get his chance at 12:35 p.m. today when the Pirates close their homestand against the Nationals before heading to Baltimore on Friday to open interleague play.

Snell retired 10 consecutive batters spanning the third and sixth innings and only allowed one runner past second base - and that was when Jose Bautista failed to handle a hot shot by Jesus Flores that ended up behind the tarp along the third-base line and was ruled a double.

For the second game in a row, Nate McLouth doubled to open the game and came around to score, this time on a Jason Bay double, for a 1-0 lead.

The Pirates had a chance to do more damage in the first inning, with runners at second and third and none out. But Doumit and Xavier Nady grounded out, and Adam LaRoche, batting .149 since May 28 (7 for 49), looked at a called third strike from Nationals starter John Lannan.

LaRoche also struck out with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh inning, drawing hearty boos from the crowd of 15,439. LaRoche went 0 for 4 to drop his batting average to .213.

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