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San Diego Padres starter Juan Eichelberger says he had...

By
POHLA SMITH, UPI Sports Writer

PITTSBURGH -- San Diego Padres starter Juan Eichelberger says he had neither command nor rhythm against the Pittsburgh Pirates Wednesday night, and he wonders if he ought to pitch that way every time out.

Despite his struggles, Eichelberger gave up just four hits in 7 1-3 innings to lead the Padres to a 3-2 victory, their second straight over Pittsburgh.

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Ruppert Jones drove in all the San Diego runs with a three-run homer, and reliever Gary Lucas gave up two Pirates hits in the final 1 2-3 innings for his 10th save.

'I didn't have my best command out there,' said Eichelberger, 6-3. 'I was a little out of synch and never really had good rhythm. I was fortunate, I guess.'

The Pirates preferred to think that Eichelberger was hot.

'He was basically relying on a rising fastball that was in and out of the strike zone, so it was hard to zero in on him,' said Pirates slugger Mike Easler. 'He mixed in a couple of breaking pitches every once in a while. He was really good.'

A bad bounce helped the Pirates take a 1-0 lead in the third. With two out, Pirate starter Pascual Perez, 2-2, hit what should have been a single to right, but the ball took a wicked bounce in front of right fielder Joe Lefebvre and rolled into the corner while the speedy Perez took third. Perez then scored on a bloop single by Omar Moreno, who went 3-for-4.

The game was a pitcher's duel between Eichelberger and Perez until the sixth, when the Padres' Terry Kennedy and Randy Bass singled with two out and Jones followed with his second homer of the year.

Eichelberger struggled in the seventh, walking two batters with one out, but manager Frank Howard said he decided to give him a chance to straighten himself out.

'I think he just got mechanically out of whack,' Howard said. 'He started aiming it too much.'

Howard said he had no choice but to relieve Eichelberger when he yielded a pinch double to Dave Parker with one out in the eighth.

Lucas struggled both innings he pitched, but got the job done. The first two batters he faced, Moreno and Kurt Bevacqua, singled and hit a sacrifice fly respectively to score Eddie Solomon, pinch running for Parker, to pull Pittsburgh to within 3-2.

In the ninth, Lucas yielded a leadoff single to Bill Madlock, who advanced on Phil Garner's pinch sacrifice, but the reliever then struck out pinch hitter Lee Lacy and got Dale Berra on a liner to end the game.

Many of the Pirates, off today, took personal effects home with them because of the strike threatened for Friday, when they are scheduled to open a homestand with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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