The Houston Astros scored twice in the 11th inning, including the deciding run on a close call, to snatch a 4-2 comeback victory from the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday night at PNC Park.
Twenty-four hours after an embarrassing dropped pop fly cost the Astros a shot an extra innings, the worst team in the major leagues got an eighth-inning RBI single from Chris Carter to force the game beyond regulation. In the top of the 11th, Houston’s Jason Castro led off with a double against Pirates reliever Bryan Morris to trigger the visitors’ winning rally.
Castro scored the go-ahead run on a Matt Dominguez ground ball to second baseman Neil Walker, who threw home for a close play. Home plate umpire C.B. Bucknor ruled that Dominguez beat catcher Russell Martin’s tag, a call which appeared to be correct. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was ejected for vehemently disputing the ruling, and pinch-hitter J.D. Martinez followed with an RBI single to put the Astros (12-31) up two.
Former Pirate Jose Veras closed it out in the bottom of the frame, ending Pittsburgh’s season-high four-game winning streak. Astros rookie pitcher Jose Cisnero was key to Houston’s win, as he threw 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief to keep the Bucs (25-18) at bay during critical at-bats in the eighth, ninth and 10th.
Pirates starter A.J. Burnett struck out seven in seven innings, handing a 2-1 lead over to righty Mark Melancon, who hadn’t surrendered an advantage all season. Trevor Crowe and Jose Altuve singled to start the frame for Houston, leading to Carter’s tying hit to left-center one out later.
Pittsburgh utility infielder Brandon Inge broke a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the sixth when he drove in Andrew McCutchen with a two-out single. McCutchen doubled off Astros starter Erik Bedard to start the inning, part of a 2-for-4 night for the Pirates all-star center fielder.
Bedard, who pitched for Pittsburgh from April to August last season, fanned three Pirates in his six-inning start. McCutchen got the better of his old teammate with two outs in the first, doubling off the Clemente Wall in right to give Gaby Sanchez an RBI opportunity. Sanchez delivered, ripping a two-bagger of his own to plate McCutchen for a 1-0 lead.
The Astros, who loaded the bases with one out in the first but didn’t score, struck for their initial run in the fifth. Marwin Gonzalez reached on a leadoff infield single and was moved to third by a sacrifice bunt and a ground out. Altuve then chopped one to Inge at third, who stumbled and couldn’t throw out the speedy Houston second baseman.
Altuve had three hits on the night, while Castro and Carter picked up two each. Castro’s double in the 11th was Houston’s only extra-base hit of the game against four Pirates pitchers.
Inge enjoyed a two-hit night in a spot start. Pittsburgh turned four double plays to erase a quarter of Houston’s 16 baserunners.
Young Pirates lefty Jeff Locke (3.15 ERA in eight appearances) gets the start on Sunday afternoon at 1:35, as the three-game series with Pittsburgh’s former NL Central rival comes to a close. The Astros will counter with righty Lucas Harrell, who has an ERA over 5.00 in seven starts.