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Archive for Sunday, June 27, 2004

Simon’s shot boosts Bucs past Reds

June 27, 2004

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— Randall Simon needed almost a month to regain his stroke after missing more than a month because of a strained left hamstring.

He hit his first home run of the season in the top of the ninth inning, and the Pittsburgh Pirates snapped the Cincinnati Reds' three-game winning streak with a 1-0 victory Saturday night.

"I was just trying to hit the ball hard and have the feeling that I used to have," said Simon, who was on the DL from April 26 through May 27. "It's tough getting through those injuries, but a game like this gives me confidence -- and I'm not worried about my hamstrings."

Simon hit a curveball on the first pitch from Todd Jones (5-2) into the right-field bleachers, giving the Pirates their second win in nine games and snapping Cincinnati's six-game home winning streak.

"I missed my spot by 31/2 feet," Jones said. "Big-league hitters, especially Randall, when you miss a spot like that, they're going to make you pay -- and he did."

Mark Corey (1-1) pitched a perfect eighth for the win. Jose Mesa pitched the ninth for his 17th save in as many tries to set a team record for consecutive saves in a season without a blown save. He shared the record with Mike Williams.

Ken Griffey Jr. went 0-for-4 and is hitless in his last 20 at-bats to extend his slump to 1-for-23 since hitting his 500th career home run Sunday in St. Louis.

Pittsburgh starter Oliver Perez went seven innings for his third no-decision in his last four starts. He allowed just three hits and three walks and matched his career high with 13 strikeouts, the most by a Pittsburgh pitcher since Jose DeLeon struck out 14 against the New York Mets on April 16, 1985.

"I was just trying to follow (catcher Jason) Kendall and keep my pitch count low," said Perez, who threw 115 pitches, including 74 for strikes. "I was happy to keep us in the game, and I wasn't mad that Simon hit the home run after I left."

Perez escaped bases-loaded jams in the third and fifth innings. He got Sean Casey to line out to Simon to end the third, and struck out Casey swinging to end the fifth.

"First of all, lefties match up well against (the Reds), and this lefty goes 92-98 (mph)," Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said.

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