Tomko leads Giants to third straight win

Tomko leads Giants to third straight win

PITTSBURGH -- Brett Tomko was perfect in six of the nine innings he pitched on Friday night in Pittsburgh, and the Giants defeated the Pirates, 3-2.

His fastball brisk and his offspeed pitches cutting masterfully, Tomko (2-3) threw a complete-game four-hitter and led the Giants to their third win in a row, matching a season high.

"I felt good the whole game," said Tomko. "I had a little hiccup early on and got lackadaisical with a couple of pitches, and then they had a swinging bunt. But I felt pretty good all night."

The Pirates went down in order in six of Tomko's innings and failed to record a hit in all but two. Other than a three-hit, two-run fourth inning -- which included a dribbling single down the third base line by Jason Bay -- the Pirates never really threatened.

"He was strong," said manager Felipe Alou. "He was throwing hard, and ... he fooled the lefties with his splitter and the changeup all night. He was in control of the game except for one inning, when he got disoriented and threw too many fastballs. But then he went to back to pitching after that, and he dominated."

Mike Matheny hit a two-out solo homer in the top of the sixth to break a 2-2 tie and give the Giants a lead they never relinquished. The home run, his second of the season, came after he flied out deep into the spacious left-center-field gap at PNC Park during his first at-bat, in the second inning.

"I go up there and try to put up good at-bats, try to be consistent," said Matheny. "I hit that first ball real well, missed my spot, and then I just tried to put a good pass on the ball. It hit the right way for me."

The Giants had jumped out to a 2-0 lead off Pirates starter Mark Redman (1-2) in the first inning, when an Omar Vizquel double scored Jason Ellison and Edgardo Alfonzo's single drove in Vizquel.

"We hit the ball extremely well tonight, put everything in play," said Alou. "Some of those balls went to the wall, and the wind kept [them] in. The ball was not carrying."

Though Tomko was perfect the first time through the Pirates' batting order, Pittsburgh tied the game in the fourth, when Daryle Ward's double scored Matt Lawton and Bay scored on Tike Redman's sacrifice fly.

Other than that, Tomko permitted only a fifth-inning double to David Ross and a two-out walk to Ward in the sixth.

"I thought he threw the ball well," said Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon. "He was 94 [mph], and I think he caught 97 a couple of times. He kept the ball down in the zone and threw some good breaking balls. I thought coming into the game we would have better at-bats against him, but he threw the ball pretty darn decent tonight."

Ray Durham went 2-for-4 and Ellison, a rookie outfielder, went 3-for-5. Ellison singled in his first three at-bats after going 3-for-3 on Wednesday night and has tallied eight consecutive hits. The last time a Giants player did that was August 2001 (pitcher Livan Hernandez).

The Giants' first complete game of the season enabled them to win three consecutive games for the first time since April 8-10, when they swept the Colorado Rockies. A starter going nine innings on Friday was especially significant in that it occurred just two days after the team learned that closer Armando Benitez might be lost for the season with a right hamstring strain.

Alou repeatedly has said that he refuses to waver in his philosophy of when to remove a starter from a game, but he left Tomko in for the ninth to pitch to Bay and Ward -- two left-handed hitters.

"I think we've got very capable guys in the bullpen at the back end," said Tomko. "Matt [Herges], Jimmy [Brower], Scotty Eyre ... guys ready to do the job. So starters can't go out there thinking, 'We have to have a complete game,' ... expecting to go into the eighth or ninth and try to shut it down, because I would gladly pass the ball on to those guys."

Alou seems convinced that Tomko has moved past losing his first three decisions of the season and is settling into a groove. Tomko won his previous start, 6-2, against the Milwaukee Brewers on April 23.

"That is a late-season-[type] game for Tomko," said Alou. "Look out. He won two straight now. Look out."

Chris Adamski is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.