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Hyzdu slams due Pirates past Brewers

Joe Rutter
| Saturday, Aug. 24, 2002

MILWAUKEE — The Pirates weren't just due for a hit with the bases loaded Friday night. They were nine months expecting.

Adam Hyzdu was more than happy to oversee the delivery.

Hyzdu erased a string of missed opportunities with the bases loaded by cracking his second grand slam of the season, a two-out, seventh-inning blast that sent the Pirates to a 6-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.

The Pirates were down to their last shot in the seventh, when Hyzdu sent Jayson Durocher's 0-1 pitch over the center-field wall to erase a 3-2 deficit. The home run, Hyzdu's 10th of the season, came after the Pirates had gone 0 for 6 in the game with the bases full.

"It would have been a tough climb if we don't get any runs there," Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said. "I'm sure my ulcer would have exploded. Hyzdu saved us all."

The comeback win came one night after the Pirates blew a 4-2 lead in the ninth inning and dropped a 5-4 decision to the St. Louis Cardinals. It was arguably their most heartbreaking defeat of the season.

"If you look back, things are going to bite you," McClendon said. "We don't do that."

Still, the Pirates were in dire straits until Hyzdu's homer. They stranded three runners in the second inning after Brewers starter Glendon Rusch walked the bases full with two outs. The Pirates loaded the bases in the sixth with nobody out but came away empty-handed when Rusch and Durocher worked out of the jam.

Rusch struck out pinch-hitter Keith Osik before yielding to Durocher, who retired Pokey Reese on a shallow fly ball and struck out pinch-hitter Abraham Nunez.

It looked like more of the same in the seventh after Jason Kendall singled, Brian Giles walked and Aramis Ramirez was hit by a pitch on the left hand.

Craig Wilson and Kevin Young each struck out swinging. Durocher, a hard-throwing right-hander, threw a first-pitch strike past Hyzdu.

"Everyone could sense what was happening," Hyzdu said. "The Pirates fans were probably going, 'Oh, no, here we go again.' "

Hyzdu changed that way of thinking when he sent Durocher's next pitch 395 feet for his third homer in his past four starts.

"The good news is, you know what's coming," Hyzdu said. "The bad news is, it's a really hard situation. You just hope it works out for you."

Hyzdu paused.

"It's pretty cool," he said, smiling. "It's more fun than getting out."

Mike Lincoln (1-3) pitched one scoreless inning of relief of starter Bronson Arroyo for the win. Mike Williams rebounded from his blown save Thursday night and pitched a perfect ninth for his 36th save.

"I thought it was important to get him right back out there," McClendon said. "He was a lot sharper and crisper tonight."

Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson, whose second-inning error led to an unearned run, left the game in the bottom of the fourth with a strained neck. Wilson was injured while butting heads with Craig Wilson during the pre-game stretch. He'll be re-evaluated today.

He was replaced by Mike Benjamin, who exited for Nunez in the sixth. That injury, plus the use of three pinch-hitters, eroded the Pirates bench to the point that McClendon used Kris Benson to bat for reliever Brian Boehringer in the ninth even though Rob Mackowiak was still available.

Benson flied out against left-hander Valerio De Los Santos for the third out.

The Pirates were 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position before Hyzdu's slam. The biggest missed opportunity came in the sixth. Craig Wilson, whose homer off Rusch in the fourth tied the score at 2-2, singled and took third on Kevin Young's double to left-center. For Young, it was just his second extra-base hit in his past 50 at-bats.

A walk to Hyzdu, Rusch's sixth of the game, put the rally in Osik's hands.

Osik, pinch-hitting for Arroyo, took a called third strike.

Brewers manager Jerry Royster went to his bullpen, replacing Rusch with Durocher. Reese's fly ball wasn't deep enough to tie the score, and Nunez struck out on a 3-2 pitch.

In his second start since moving back into the rotation, Arroyo allowed three runs (two earned) and four hits in five innings. He struck out four batters and walked two.

"This is an important stretch for him as far as having an opportunity to pitch out of the rotation," McClendon said. "He's out of options next year, and a decision hasn't been made on him. So, I'd say he's auditioning. That's a fair assessment."

It didn't look like Arroyo would make it past the first in this audition. He took a Lenny Harris line drive off his left leg, the ball ricocheting to second base, where Reese gathered it in and recorded the third out.

Arroyo didn't seem to be affected by the line drive, although the Brewers did score two runs off him in their next at-bat.

"After he got hit, his stuff started to leave him," McClendon said. "His stuff was as live as I've seen it to the first three batters, but it dropped off pretty quickly."

The Pirates scored a run in the third when Brian Giles reached on a fielder's choice and Reese scored from third. Craig Wilson's leadoff homer in the fourth tied the score, but it didn't remain that way for long. The Brewers went ahead in the bottom of the inning when Matt Stairs singled and scored on Loretta's double to left-center.

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