08/20/2003 2:56 PM ET
Bucs hit seven homers at Busch
Sanders homers twice in the fifth inning
By Ed Eagle / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- The Pittsburgh Pirates didn't just get mad. They got even.
One night after taking a two-run lead into the eighth inning only to watch the St. Louis Cardinals erupt for 10 runs, the Bucs matched that 10-spot with one of their own Wednesday night in a 14-0 rout of the Redbirds at Busch Stadium.
"It's nice to be on the giving end, not the receiving end, that's for sure," said Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon. "I really had no doubt that (my team) would come back and play extremely hard tonight -- (maybe) not to this extent -- but it was certainly nice to see."
Already leading, 3-0, thanks to a solo home run by starting pitcher Jeff D'Amico in the third inning and Rob Mackowiak's two-run shot in the fourth, the Bucs put on one of the most impressive offensive displays in team history in the fifth.
Jason Kendall and Brian Giles led off the inning, appropriately enough, with back-to-back home runs to chase St. Louis starter Garrett Stephenson from the game.
Rookie Jason Pearson came on in relief and was immediately greeted by a Reggie Sanders home run.
"Tonight was amazing," said Mackowiak. "It seemed like every guy up there was locked in."
After Pearson retired the next two batters, it looked as though the Bucs might have run out of steam. In reality, they were just getting started.
Mackowiak singled to extend the inning. Jack Wilson and D'Amico drew consecutive walks to load the bases for Tike Redman, who beat out a high chopper to Pearson to keep the inning alive. Kendall then singled in the Pirates' eighth run, and Giles walked to load the bases for Sanders.
Sanders capped the inning off in grand style, taking Estaban Yan deep for his second home run and fifth RBI of the frame. Sanders became the first Pirate hitter to belt a pair of home runs in an inning since Jeff King in 1996. It was just the fourth time in the 116-year history of the club that a player had gone deep twice in a single frame.
Sanders, who didn't even know that he had hit two runs in the same inning until teammate Matt Stairs told him about it after the inning, said he wasn't swinging for a home run.
"It's one of those things where if you try to swing for the fences, you end up grounding out or striking out," said Sanders. "I just tried to put good wood on the baseball.
"I was just happy to hit a grand slam because Yan got me out (Tuesday) with the bases loaded."
Other notable accomplishments for the Bucs on Tuesday night included:
- The 10 runs scored in the inning were the most by the club since May 4, 1992 against the Cincinnati Reds.
- The back-to-back-to-back home runs marked the first time the Pirates have hit three consecutive long balls since August 8, 1995 against the San Francisco Giants.
- The 14-run margin of victory was the largest by the Bucs since September 16, 1975 when they topped the Chicago Cubs, 22-0.
- Mackowiak's second home run of the night -- a solo shot in the eighth inning -- gave the Pirates seven long balls for the night, matching a team record set on August 16, 1947 against the Cardinals.
The night was especially sweet for Mackowiak. In his first game action since being recalled from Triple-A Nashville a day earlier, he went 4-for-5 with three RBIs.
"It's been an up and down year," said Mackowiak. "I couldn't dream it up any better than the way it happened."
McClendon was pleased to see Mackowiak get off to such a strong start in his second tour of duty with the club this season.
"It's good to have him back," said McClendon. "He's worked hard and certainly bounced back after being down. I certainly think he's part of our future here, and it's good to see him back up here."
Interestingly, the Pirates hit five home runs against St. Louis in an 8-0 win at Busch Stadium exactly one year earlier.
While the offensive explosion was historic, it was not altogether uncharacteristic of the way the Pirates have been playing as of late. The Bucs had hit three home runs in each of their previous two games and now have 30 in their last 13 contests.
The 14 runs scored by the Bucs gives them 174 since the All-Star break, second only to the powerful Atlanta Braves during that span.
"Offensively, we've really been swinging the bats extremely well," said McClendon. "We've had a couple of lapses where we didn't take advantage of opportunities to drive in runs. But other than that, if you look at our numbers since the break, we've certainly been coming on pretty good."
Pittsburgh's tremendous night at the plate nearly overshadowed an impressive effort on the mound by D'Amico.
D'Amico (8-12) blanked the Cardinals on three hits to notch just the second win in his last eight starts. The shutout was the first by D'Amico since May 15, 2002 against Los Angeles.
"It was a perfect day," said D'Amico. "You're able to relax out there when you get a big lead. You just try to make pitches and not worry about if they get hits or homers. "
Stephenson was tagged for five runs on seven hits -- including four home runs -- in four-plus innings to fall to 7-12.
Ed Eagle is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.