For the Pittsburgh Pirates, the recipe for success the rest of the season is simple: good starting pitching and Andrew McCutchen performing like, well, Andrew McCutchen.
The Bucs got all of that Tuesday night thanks to a gem from Wandy Rodriguez and a three-RBI night from McCutchen in a 6-2 win over the Houston Astros to put an end to a four-game losing streak.
Rodriguez, making his second start against his former team, put together his second consecutive outstanding start by throwing seven shutout innings, scattering only four hits while striking out seven.
He didn’t need much run support in this one but the Pirates didn’t disappoint in that area either as the combination of rookie Brock Holt and McCutchen were lethal all night, as the duo combined to go 8-for-9 on the evening.
The Pirates need a table setter and have to like what they’ve seen out Holt, who has gone 6-for-13 batting in the leadoff spot since being called up last week. But when runners get on in front of McCutchen he needs to deliver and that’s exactly what Cutch got back to doing Tuesday.
The Bucs took a 1-0 lead in the first when Cutch doubled in Travis Snider from first base, but Snider came up lame rounding third base and had to leave the game as it looks like he re-aggravated his lingering right hamstring injury.
Cutch singled in Holt in the third to make it a 2-0 game and then the Bucs added another in the frame on an RBI single off the bat of Garrett Jones. The hard-hit ball probably should have been ruled an error on shortstop Tyler Greene as it could have been an inning-ending double play if fielded cleanly.
McCutchen drove in Holt with an RBI single in the fifth to make it 4-0 and then Greene helped the Pirates out again when he dropped a two-out popup off the bat of Pedro Alvarez, allowing both McCutchen and Jones to score and make it a 6-0 game.
Things stayed that way until the eighth when Clint Hurdle lifted Rodriguez in favor of Chris Resop who allowed a run-scoring double to Brett Wallace and Tony Watson served up an RBI single off the bat of former Pirates catcher Chris Snyder.
Joel Hanrahan pitched the ninth to close out a much-needed win, hopefully one the Bucs can build on Wednesday night in the series finale.
Notes: The first pitch was delayed by a 1 hour, 15 minute rain delay….The Pirates struck out nine more times on the night, bringing their five-game total to 48….Other than Holt and McCutchen, the rest of the lineup combined to go only 2-for-22 with only Jones’ single in the third and an infield single from Clint Barmes in the eighth….Both Starling Marte and Neil Walker could be back in the Pirates lineup by the weekend.
Winning Pitcher: Wandy Rodriguez (10-13)
Losing Pitcher: Jordan Lyles (3-11)
MVP: Rodriguez- 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 7 K, 1 BB
LVP: Chris Resop- 0.2 IP, 2 H, 2 ER
Play of the Game: Greene not coming up with the grounder of Jones’ bat, which allowed the Bucs to extend the lead to 3-0 and gave Wandy some breathing room.
Home Runs: None
Up Next: Wednesday, September 5 at 7:05 p.m. vs. Houston Astros
Probable Starters: Fernando Abad (0-2, 4.83 ERA) vs. Kevin Correia (9-8, 4.40)