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Monday, March 31, 2008

Wild Home Opener Ends In Pittsburgh's Favor


Strange occurences, frantic rallies and lead changes ended in the Pirates' favor, as they pulled out a 12-11 win in 12 innings.

The game started out innocently enough. Tom Glavine pitched five innings and despite allowing seven hits and two runs, one unearned, he left with a 4-2 lead. Ian Snell pitched six innings and allowed seven hits and four runs. In the eighth, with the game tied 4-4, thanks to Yunel Escobar's errant throw that Teixeira couldn't dig out, Nady led off the inning with a solo homer that just cleared the right field wall and McLouth added on a three-run homer later. Both came off of Braves reliever Manny Acosta, who is not known for giving up home runs. The Pirates added another run in the ninth to make it 9-4.

Then came the bottom of the ninth.

Damaso Marte entered the game for the Pirates and couldn't throw a strike, walking Mark Kotsay to lead off the inning. Matt Diaz struck out, but pinch hitter Ruben Gotay walked as well. New Pirate manager John Russell, who caught for the Braves once upon a time in 1989, called on closer Matt Capps to finish the game. Normally, Capps has impeccable control, but he couldn't find the strike zone either. He walked Martin Prado to load the bases and then walked Yunel Escobar to force in a run to make it 9-5. Chipper Jones then laced a single to right and drove in two to make it 9-7. Mark Teixeira then flew out to center to make it two out. Brian McCann then hit a soft fly ball to left field and slammed his bat in disgust. The ball traveled out to left and Jason Bay and Nate McLouth started to jog in and then the ball plopped in right between them. Escobar scored and Chipper got around from first to score the tying run.

Both sides battled on and then Xavier Nady smashed a three-run homer in the 12th off of Blaine Boyer that ended up being what the Pirates needed. In the bottom of the frame, Francoeur hit a solo homer, off of Franquelis Osoria, to left field and Mark Kotsay followed that with a double. Matt Diaz scored him with a single up the middle. But pinch hitter Corky Miller flied out to center, though, and the Braves came up on the losing end of the duel.

Kelly Johnson had to leave the game in the fourth inning with a strained knee. He'll be listed as day to day.

More news: It was announced during the game that the Braves signed Scott Spiezio to a minor league contract in hopes that he is over his addiction problems and he'll be able to shore up the bench with his versatility and decent power.

W - Franquelis Osoria (1-0)
L - Blaine Boyer (0-1)
HR - PIT - Xavier Nady 2 (2)
Nate McLouth (1)
ATL - Brian McCann (1)
Jeff Francoeur (1)

Gold - RF Xavier Nady, PIT - 4-7, 2B, 2 HR, 4 R, 4 RBI
Silver - CF Nate McLouth, PIT - 3-5, HR, BB, 2 R, 4 RBI
Bronze - SS Yunel Escobar, ATL - 3-4, 3B, 2 R, 2 BB, 3 RBI

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