PITTSBURGH Lloyd McClendon was fired today as manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates with the team only one defeat away from a fifth consecutive losing season. Bench coach Pete Mackanin is set to serve as interim manager for the rest of the season.
The team is expected to immediately begin searching for a replacement for McClendon, a former Pirates player and coach who was on the verge of becoming the first manager in team history to have five consecutive losing seasons. The Pirates have not had a winning season since winning the NL East in 1992.
The talent-thin Pirates, who only this season began a concerted effort to rebuild with youth, averaged 91 losses in McClendon s first four seasons. With a 55-81 record going into tonight s game against Arizona, they were tied with Colorado for the NL s worst record.
The Pirates held a club option on McClendon for 2006 and, after an encouraging start that saw them reach .500 at 30-30 on June 11, the team began talking to McClendon about next season. But the Pirates have since lost 51 of 76 games and appear headed for their fourth season of 90 or more losses since 1999.
The Pirates have lost four straight, nine of 10 and 14 of 18. They also have dropped eight in a row at home, their longest streak since PNC Park opened in 2001.
Once they lose another game, the Pirates 13 consecutive losing seasons will be three short of the major league record.
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