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Mientkiewicz, Pirates win in 12th after pitching duel

Jun 21, 2008 - 3:58 AM By Brad Everett PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- Cito Gaston's managerial return to the Toronto Blue Jays began much like John Gibbons' tenure ended - with a loss.

Doug Mientkiewicz scored on an error in the 12th inning, helping the Pittsburgh Pirates hand the Blue Jays their sixth straight defeat with a 1-0 win at PNC Park on Friday night.

Mientkiewicz doubled off Toronto reliever Jesse Carlson (1-1) to lead off the frame and moved to third on Jack Wilson's infield single. Jason Frasor relieved Carlson, but promptly surrendered a walk to Raul Chavez before pinch hitter Jason Michaels sharply hit a ball that shortstop John McDonald could not handle, which allowed the winning run to score.

After starter Zach Duke pitched seven shutout innings, the Pirates' bullpen combined for five more scoreless frames - including a pair of hitless innings by Tyler Yates (3-0).

It was a much-needed win for the interleague-challenged Pirates, who had dropped 10 of their past 11 games against American League foes - including five of their previous six.

"We've been through tough times and bad streaks, but these guys never seem to let that affect them," Pirates manager John Russell said. "These guys have been resilient all year, and tonight was a good example."

Mientkiewicz is the lone Pirate with significant at-bats against AL teams as he spent all but 89 games in the junior circuit in his previous 10 big league seasons. He responded by going 3-for-4 and making a pair of stellar defensive plays.

"I've seen these guys a lot over my career," Mientkiewicz said. "It's a little easier when you know the lineup pretty well and you've faced them before."

Gaston, who replaced the fired Gibbons earlier in the day, lost his first game back with the Blue Jays. He led the club to four playoff appearances and back-to-back World Series titles from 1989-1997.

"It's a little different," Gaston said. "I felt like I made some mistakes out there, but we'll see if it gets better tomorrow."

Toronto got a scare in the seventh when ace Roy Halladay was hit in the head with a line drive. As Halladay raised his glove to protect himself, the ball ricocheted off his right temple and was caught by third baseman Scott Rolen for the final out of the inning.

Having thrown 96 pitches, Halladay exited the game. He scattered six hits over seven scoreless innings, giving up two walks and striking out seven. The former Cy Young Award winner is listed as day-to-day and is expected to make his next start.

"(Pirates center fielder Nyjer Morgan) hit it pretty good," Blue Jays catcher Rod Barajas said. "(Halladay) just wasn't able to get his glove up there. He seems to be doing pretty well, and hopefully it's just a minor little bruise that he's got."

Duke yielded six hits and one walk with four strikeouts. The lefthander has been Pittsburgh's most consistent starter this season and has now worked at least six innings in 11 of his past 12 starts.

"For me, it's just been the preparation between starts that has been very consistent," Duke said. "I know what I'm going to have on the mound, and it's just being able to execute my gameplan."