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PIRATES Suppan shuts down Red Sox for 6 innings

Saturday, March 29, 2003

Pittsburgh manager Lloyd McClendon is pleased with his team's progress.
BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) -- Jack Wilson scored from second base on Pokey Reese's infield single in the fifth inning and Jeff Suppan pitched six shutout innings in a 3-0 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday.
Scott Sauerbeck, Brian Boehringer and Julian Tavarez followed with a scoreless inning each as the Pirates, fielding their opening day lineup except for their pitcher, won for the eighth time in 10 games.
Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon has begun playing his regulars in hopes of carrying their late-spring success into the season, so he especially liked how they scored their first run.
After Wilson doubled against reliever Robert Person, he never stopped running on Reese's grounder up the middle, leaving second baseman Todd Walker without a play at the plate.
"I talked to the players before the game and I told them I've been very pleased with the effort and how they're starting to play good baseball," McClendon said. "That was an example of that."
No. 4 starter
Suppan, signed away from the Kansas City Royals to be Pittsburgh's No. 4 starter, gave up four hits and struck out two in his best outing of the spring. He will pitch again Sunday in a minor league game before the Pirates open the season Monday in Cincinnati.
The right-hander pitched plenty of innings for the Royals -- more than 200 each of the last four seasons -- but has only a 49-64 career record. He was 19-30 the last two seasons.
"His stuff and his velocity won't blow you away," general manager Dave Littlefield said. "Frankly, he's been mediocre the last few years, even though he's pitched his innings and made his starts, and we're hoping we get better performances from him. I'm sure he's hoping the same thing."
Suppan hadn't pitched against major league hitters since allowing two runs on five hits in five innings March 15 against the Phillies.
Red Sox starter Steve Woodard lasted four innings, giving up one hit and striking out three. He has given up two runs in 13 2-3 innings.
The Pirates' final two runs came in the eighth against Hector Almonte on Craig Wilson's single, Rob Mackowiak's triple and Kevin Young's RBI single.
The Pirates are down to 27 players, only two short of the 25-man limit. ... The crowd of 6,065 was the fifth largest since McKechnie Field was rebuilt in 1993.