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NL: Pittsburgh's surprise ace stops Giants

©Associated Press
April 23, 2003

PITTSBURGH -- Jeff Suppan is showing a team doesn't have to spend big money to pick up a starter who can win right away.

Suppan, passed up by numerous clubs before signing a $1-million deal, won his fourth straight start, and the Pirates roughed up Giants rookie Jesse Foppert in his first career start for a 5-2 victory over San Francisco on Tuesday night.

Pittsburgh took a 5-0 lead in the first inning as Foppert, though insisting he wasn't nervous, fought with his control by walking two and hitting a batter.

The Giants, shorthanded with star Barry Bonds out with a sore neck on a 44-degree night, lost consecutive games for the first time this season. They were 15-2, the second-best start in club history, before losing 16-4 Sunday to the Dodgers.

The Pirates couldn't ask for much more from Suppan, 4-0 with a 1.37 ERA. He already has won nearly half as many games as he did in going 9-16 for the Royals last season.

"I'm trying to keep it simple and do the things I can control," said Suppan, who wasn't re-signed after going 39-51 for the Royals in four seasons. "When you keep it simple, it's easier to focus on what your job is."

Suppan gave up one run for the fourth straight start -- Edgardo Alfonzo hit his second homer in the third -- and held San Francisco to seven hits over seven-plus innings. The Giants had scored at least four in each of their previous seven games.

Before the game, the Giants got more bad news in what already has been a tough week. Pitcher Jason Schmidt left the team after learning his mother died in Longview, Wash., following a long illness. A few days before general manager Brian Sabean's father, Roy, died of cancer and Bonds' father, former Giants star Bobby Bonds, had surgery for brain cancer.

PHILLIES 5, ROCKIES 2: Pitching Kevin Millwood was the right decision for Philadelphia.

Moved up a day in the rotation, Millwood allowed one run and three hits in six innings to lead the host Phillies.

Brett Myers had been scheduled to start, but manager Larry Bowa made the change to keep Millwood on his regular pattern of four days' rest. Millwood lasted 32/3 innings Thursday in a 7-3 loss to Florida, throwing 103 pitches.

BRAVES 5, CARDINALS 3: Gary Sheffield homered, doubled and drove in three to the delight of his cheering section in rightfield for host Atlanta.

For the first time this season, eight fans in the upper deck unfurled a banner that read "Sheff's Chefs." All donned chef costumes, including the hats, and praised Sheffield throughout the game.

As he was rounding the bases after his home run in the fifth, they responded with "We're not worthy" bows.

CUBS 7, PADRES 2: Host Chicago made Brian Lawrence pay for hitting a major league-high three batters in one inning, converting the plunks into four runs in the fourth.

Corey Patterson homered and had three RBIs and Damian Miller drove in three with his first triple since 1998. The Cubs have won eight of 10 and San Diego has lost five straight.

DODGERS 2, REDS 1: Brian Jordan's run-scoring single in the eighth lifted Los Angeles in the first low-scoring game at Great American Ball Park.

Cesar Izturis tied it with a two-out run-scoring single in the seventh, and Jordan decided it with another two-out single in the eighth off former Rays starter Paul Wilson.

MARLINS 4, BREWERS 2: Ivan Rodriguez drove in three, including two with a tiebreaking homer in the eighth, for host Florida. The Marlins bullpen, which went in last in the league with a 5.61 ERA, shut out Milwaukee over two innings.

ASTROS 6, METS 2: Tim Redding allowed one run in six innings to win for the first time in nearly 11 months and Richard Hidalgo homered to lift visiting Houston to its third win in 10 games.

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