ATLANTA (AP) – Zach Duke pitched into the ninth inning, and the Pittsburgh Pirates got home runs from Jose Castillo and Chris Duffy to snap a five-game losing streak with a 4-1 victory Monday over the Atlanta Braves.

Duke (4-0) outpitched Tim Hudson to end Atlanta’s six-game winning streak and become the first Pirates starter in 35 years to begin his career with a 4-0 record. Jim Nelson opened 4-0 in 1970.

In 39 1-3 innings spanning five starts, Duke has allowed only four earned runs for a 0.92 ERA. His streak of consecutive innings with allowing an earned run ended at 30 when the Braves scored in the fifth. It was the first earned run allowed by Duke since the fifth inning of his major league debut on July 2 in Milwaukee.

The 22-year-old Duke allowed an unearned run in his 8-1 win over Colorado on July 21. He then pitched two shutout innings against Florida on July 27 but did not return following a rain delay.

The left-hander gave up seven hits and one walk in 8 1-3 innings Monday, the longest outing of his brief career. He struck out two, helping Pittsburgh avoid a four-game sweep.

Jose Mesa got two outs for his 26th save in 29 chances, striking out Jeff Francoeur with two on to end it.

Duke gave up three hits in the fifth but otherwise shut down the NL East-leading Braves, who were denied their first undefeated homestand of seven or more games since April 2000. They swept a three-game series from Washington before winning the first three against Pittsburgh.

Duke led all major league starters who threw at least 25 innings in July with a 0.87 ERA, and he maintained the momentum in his first start against Atlanta, though his ERA rose slightly.

The Pirates took a 1-0 lead in the fourth when Jason Bay singled to left, stole second, moved to third on Daryle Ward’s infield hit and scored on Castillo’s sharp single.

The Braves tied it in the fifth. Francoeur hit a one-out double and scored on Johnny Estrada’s double, but Hudson (7-6) hit into a double play.

The Pirates answered quickly in the sixth when Castillo’s ninth homer drove in Rob Mackowiak, who led off with a single, for a 3-1 lead.

Duffy, the rookie leadoff hitter, hit his first major league homer in the seventh to push the lead to 4-1. Duffy had two hits.

Notes: Bay fouled a ball off his left knee in the fifth inning and departed in the sixth with a bruised knee. He is day to day. … Hudson hit into double plays in the third and fifth. … Duffy has hit safely in 12 of his last 13 starts.

AP-ES-08-01-05 1601EDT


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