Walk off homerun sinks Sox as Pirates end record streak

The Associated Press The Associated Press

The Associated Press The Associated Press

By The Associated Press

PITTSBURGH – No team named the Pittsburgh Pirates had lost this many games in a row. Nobody wearing a Pirates uniform wants to be part of the next one that does.

Freddy Sanchez led off the ninth inning with a home run, his fourth hit of the game, and the Pirates rallied to end a club-record 13-game losing streak by beating the Chicago White Sox 7-6 Thursday.

“You hope you never see anything like that happen to us again,” said Sanchez. “Now we’re looking forward to starting to win some games.”

The Pirates stopped their longest skid in the modern era of baseball that began in 1900, and the second-longest in franchise history to a 23-game slide in 1890 – when the city’s NL team was known as the Pittsburgh Alleghenies.

They led 6-4, only to see Jim Thome tie it with his 25th homer in his only at-bat of the game, a pinch-hit, two-run drive off Roberto Hernandez that bounced into the Allegheny River in the eighth. The night before, the White Sox rallied from a three-run deficit to win 4-3, the World Series champions’ 11th win in 12 games.

“Pinch-hitting, it’s a different role for sure. You’ve got to be aggressive and try to get a pitch to hit, that’s it,” Thome said.

Mike Gonzalez (2-3) pitched out of a two-on, two-out jam in the top of the ninth by striking out former teammate Rob Mackowiak. Sanchez then hit an 0-1 pitch from Cliff Politte (1-2) into the first row of the left-field seats for his fifth homer, giving the Pirates their first victory in 15 days.

“I knew it felt good, but I couldn’t assume anything,” Sanchez said. “I think it’s the first time since junior college I hit a walk-off homer.”

The Pirates, winning only their second in 16 games, stopped one streak but couldn’t halt Jose Contreras’ White Sox-record 16-game winning streak despite getting six runs and 12 hits off him in 5 1-3 innings. Not that they really cared.

“It will be very difficult to completely erase it,” manager Jim Tracy said. “But there’s no question we’re capable of competing against the best teams in the American League and the National League, because we’ve proved it the last three days.”

The Pirates must have let out a “here we go again” after the first four White Sox batters singled in the first, with those by Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye driving in runs. It was a customary start by Pirates left-hander Zach Duke, but the Pirates came back with two in their half on Bay’s RBI double and Jeromy Burnitz’s sacrifice fly.

Bay, his average down nearly 20 points since the Pirates launched an aggressive, get-out-the-vote campaign to make him an All-Star game starter July 11 in Pittsburgh, also singled. It was only his second two-hit game in his last 10.