(the Bucs’ Jose Bautista hitting a grand slam off Tim Worrell in yesterday’s 8th inning)

It will take more than losing to the Pirates for Felipe Alou to start flinging cold cuts, writes the SF Chronicle’s Henry Shulman.




Call it what you will. The Pittsburgh Pirates arrived in San Francisco with five road wins in 29 games. That’s right, five road wins in two months and change, and they flat-out kicked the Giants into San Mateo County, beating them for the third consecutive time Sunday, 7-5.

Good lord, if not for that ninth-inning wild pitch in the first of the four games Thursday, the Giants might have been swept. As it was, they went 3-4 on a homestand against Pittsburgh and Florida, the weakest two teams in the National League.

This was the kind of defeat, series and homestand that would propel some managers into the lunchroom with an eye toward tipping the spread. Perhaps because he knew hunger as a child, Felipe Alou could not do it. He opened his door promptly as usual and gritted his teeth through a barrage of questions.

He even managed a smile or two that masked his disgust.

“I can tell you, he’s not very happy the way we’re playing, and he shouldn’t be,” said Moises Alou, who hit a home run and saved two runs with a great catch on his bobblehead day. “I’ve talked to him a few times. He’s not happy. We’re not happy. At least I’m not happy, but he’s not going to go in and throw the spread, especially a guy coming from the Dominican.”

Following a genuinely sick performance by Felix Hernandez, the Mariners find themselves a mere 4 games out of first place in the AL West.  Granted, every team in the division is flawed, but this has to be considered cause for hope in hopelessville.

A day after suffering a humiliating 15-2 defeat to the New York Mets and Pedro Martinez (the latter finally collecting his 6th win of the season), the Jason Grimsley-hating Snakes might be ready to pay Russ Ortiz to stink up the joint somewhere else.  From the Arizona Republic’s Bob McManaman.

Ortiz’s grip on remaining in the starting rotation, meanwhile, is tenuous at best. After finishing a disappointing 5-11 with a 6.89 ERA in his debut season in Arizona, he is 0-5 with a 7.54 ERA in six starts in 2006.

On Sunday, he was chased after allowing seven runs (five earned) and seven hits in just 3 1/3 innings.

When asked if he would be inclined to let the struggling right-hander make his next start, set for Saturday at the Texas Rangers, manager Bob Melvin was noncommittal.

“We’ll discuss that,” he said.

Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

But things have gotten so bad so quick, that ownership has an itchy trigger finger and after deciding to go to war with Grimsley, they aren’t particularly worried about hurting Ortiz’s feelings.

The problem is, he is under contract for two more years after signing a four-year, $33 million deal in 2005. He’s getting paid $7.4 million this season and they still owe him about $20 million. Eating that much salary would be precedent-setting by a major league club.

But the Diamondbacks are considering it. And that should tell you something. Trading him would be ideal, but it is unrealistic. They could move him to the bullpen, but spots are precious there, and what proof does the team have he will pitch any better in relief?

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting that Pittsburgh OF Chris Duffy will accept a demotion to the minor leagues after doing his own version of the Dewon Brazelton shuffle earlier in the year.

Speaking of Brazelton, his current club, the PCL’s Portland Beavers were the beneficiaries of some great last Friday night.  Three Beavers, Ryan Meaux (above), Aquilino Lopez and Cla Meredith combined to fashion a 7 inning, 1 hour, 50 minute perfect game in the second half of a twinbill with the Sacramento Bees, Portland winning 5-0.