MIAMI (AP) - Three years ago, Chan Ho Park was pitching in the minors when he was informed that he was only 11 wins shy of breaking Hideo Nomo's record for most wins by an Asian-born pitcher in the major leagues.
Park thought reaching that mark was a long shot, but on Friday night he pitched three scoreless innings in relief to earn the record-breaking win for the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 5-1 victory over the Florida Marlins.
``It's very special, 124 is nothing great for the major leagues, but it's very special,' Park said. ``It makes me think about 17 years ago when I first came, the people who brought me here, who helped me and still help me.'
Chris Snyder and surging rookie Pedro Alvarez homered for the Pirates.
``With the way the season went for us, to be able to have him accomplish something like that definitely makes things a little bit easier to swallow,' Snyder said.
Park (4-3), a 37-year-old right-hander from South Korea, struck out six and did not allow a hit. He credited a former teammate, New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, for his success on the record-setting night.
``I've been working on the cutter,' Park said. ``I saw Mariano pitch a lot earlier this season with the Yankees and I learned from him about grips, how to hold the grips. I've been working all year and I didn't have the confidence during the games, but today I finally made it. It was great.'
Pirates starter Daniel McCutchen allowed one run and five hits in four innings before he was relieved by Park.
``That's a huge accomplishment for him and his country and just to be a part of that, that was probably the highlight of my baseball career so far,' McCutchen said.
Evan Meek and Joel Hanrahan each pitched a scoreless inning to preserve the win for Park.
``The club was really rallying behind him,' Pirates manager John Russell said. ``I know it's a dream come true for him, so it's a special moment for us.'
It also was a rare road victory for the Pirates, who improved to 17-62 away from home. They must win one of their final two games to avoid matching the 1963 New York Mets for the worst road record in a 162-game season.
Pittsburgh has the worst overall mark in the majors at 57-103 and is assured of the top pick in next year's amateur draft.
Dan Uggla's RBI single in the first gave the Marlins an early lead before Alvarez hit a solo home run - his 16th of the season - off Adalberto Mendez (1-3). It was Alvarez's fifth homer in his last 10 games. He went 4 for 5 with a three-run shot and five RBIs in Thursday night's 11-9 loss at Florida.
Snyder connected in the fifth, again off Mendez, with a two-run drive to left, giving the Pirates a 3-1 edge.
``(Mendez) was pitching behind the count,' Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said. ``His slider wasn't working. That's why he had to use his fastball. Pitching behind the count, he was going to get hurt.'
Four straight singles in the sixth, including run-scoring hits by Brandon Moss and Ronny Cedeno, stretched the lead to 5-1.
Mendez allowed five runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings.
Notes: Park went 84-58 in nine seasons with the Dodgers and is 40-40 with six other clubs. ... Pirates LF Jose Tabata singled in the seventh to extend his hitting streak to 14 games. ... Alvarez extended his hitting streak to 11 games, going 2 for 4. ... Marlins RHP Jose Ceda left the team for the Dominican Republic on Thursday because his wife is expecting their first child. He is not expected to rejoin the team this season. ... Marlins rookie Logan Morrison hit his seventh triple of the season in his 60th game. ... The crowd of 23,124 included 701 dogs as part of a Bark at the Park promotion.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved