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Pirates close out solid second half; Sanchez wins bat title

Oct 1, 2006 - 8:15 PM PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- On a day Freddy Sanchez cemented the Pittsburgh Pirates' first batting title in over 20 years, Xavier Nady gave the club a positive send-off.

Nady's RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning gave the Pirates a 1-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

Sanchez went 2-for-4 to wrap up the National League batting title with a .344 average. Pittsburgh (67-95) showed some promise by winning 37 of 72 games after the All-Star break despite a 14th consecutive losing season.

"It was kind of a perfect day," said Sanchez, who was honored in a postgame ceremony. "It's good to have the day that we did to finish the season strong.

"To be up there with all the other Pirates in the past is humbling. It was just a happy day for everyone. The fans and their ovations were awesome."

Sanchez singled in his first two at-bats en route to becoming the first Pirate to win a batting crown since Bill Madlock in 1983.

"As the manager of the club, I want to make sure that everyone realizes that the 2006 National League batting champion is as unselfish a player in a team concept as you can possibly find," Pittsburgh manager Jim Tracy said. "He's quite a young man."

The Pirates started their winning rally when Jason Bay singled with two outs off Todd Coffey (6-7). Ryan Doumit followed with a base hit and Bay advanced to third on a passed ball. Nady followed with his third hit, a soft liner to right.

Salomon Torres worked around an error and walk in the ninth inning, striking out Javier Valentin to notch his 12th save.

"We can feel real good about where we are going next year based on the past 2 1/2 months," Torres said.

Rookie Matt Capps (9-1) got the last out of the eighth to record the win and cap a solid rookie season.

Matt Belisle yielded just five hits and two walks in six innings for Cincinnati (80-82), which could have ended with a non-losing record for the first time since 2000 with a win.

The Reds were eliminated from postseason contention when first-place St. Louis won Saturday afternoon.

"It's hurtful (not to have a .500 record), but not as hurtful as not being in the postseason," Reds manager Jerry Narron said. "St. Louis winning (Saturday) definitely took a lot out of us, there's no question about that. But the guys battled all year and gave us a chance to be playing for the postseason the last weekend of the season, which gives us something to build on."

Pittsburgh starter Shane Youman pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing four hits and a walk.

"Today was one of those days where I felt real good," Youman said. "I knew they were swinging the bat, so I just wanted to go out and be aggressive and just throw strikes.

"We all leave with a good feeling, a good taste in our mouth."

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