- The Washington Times - Monday, April 20, 2009

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Ross Ohlendorf allowed two hits over seven innings during Pittsburgh’s third shutout in four games and Nate McLouth drove in four runs as the Pirates ended Florida’s seven-game winning streak, winning 8-0 on Monday night.

The Marlins began the night with a major league-best 11-1 record and were coming off three consecutive come-from-behind victories in their final at-bat in Washington. This time, they fell behind 1-0 in the first and never caught up during their first loss in seven road games.

The majors’ hottest team ran into one of its most surprising and, as if often does, pitching made the difference. The Pirates are pitching much better than they did while losing 95 games last season, and it has permitted a team coming off 16 consecutive losing seasons to get off to a modest but encouraging 7-6 start.

With four shutouts, the Pirates already have twice as many as they did last season, when their 5.10 ERA was the NL’s worst and the third worst in franchise history. They’ve cut that by more than two runs per game to 3.08, even while losing 11-1 Sunday to Atlanta. They shut out the Braves 3-0 and 10-0 in the first two games of that series.

Ohlendorf (1-2), finally getting some run support, won for the first time in eight starts since being traded to the Pirates by the Yankees last season. He was sharp from the start against a team that had scored a combined 16 runs in its previous two games, giving up only singles to leadoff batters Emilio Bonifacio in the first and Hanley Ramirez in the fourth while striking out five and walking one.

Tyler Yates and Jesse Chavez finished off the shutout with a scoreless inning each.

The Pirates didn’t score a run while Ohlendorf was in the game during his first two starts, but that wasn’t a problem against Florida. They manufactured a run in the first as Nyjer Morgan was hit with a pitch by Andrew Miller, stole second and scored on Nate McLouth’s single and took advantage of some sloppy play by Florida to keep adding on runs.

The Marlins helped out with three wild pitches, a balk and six walks, and the Pirates stole three bases.

Miller (0-1) threw a run-scoring wild pitch in the fourth two batters following Adam LaRoche’s leadoff double. Reliever Logan Kensing committed a run-scoring balk while giving up four runs over 2 1-3 innings, ending the Florida bullpen’s streak of 21 1-3 scoreless innings.

LaRoche added a two-run single in the fifth and McLouth hit his fourth homer, a three-run drive off Kensing in the sixth with the Pirates already up 5-0.

LaRoche went 2-for-3 to raise his average to .255 _ an improvement for a player whose .179 career average in April coming into this season was the third lowest of any NL hitter since 1900. LaRoche was 0-for-10 in his previous three games and was 0-for-14 against Florida last season.

The announced attendance on a cool, rainy night was 8,090, but the actual attendance appeared to be about half that.

Notes:@ The Marlins had scored at least two runs in each of their previous 12 games. … The Pirates have four shutouts in the first seven games of a nine-game homestand that ends Wednesday. … Pirates C Ryan Doumit (sore right wrist) may miss the series. … Pittsburgh has won the first game of all five series this season.

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