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Bucs blank Astros, tie Cardinals for division lead

Jul 16, 2011 - 5:14 AM Houston, TX (Sports Network) - Jeff Karstens tossed a five-hit shutout and Andrew McCutchen added a two-run triple as Pittsburgh topped Houston, 4-0, in the first edition of a three-game set from Minute Maid Park.

"'Cutch' is swinging the bat as well as anybody right now," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. "He's in such a good place he's seeing the ball, getting good looks and hitting it all over."

Karstens (8-4) turned in his fifth straight positive decision and recorded his first complete-game whitewash since 2008. He needed just 83 pitches (64 for strikes) to finish the outing, helping the Pirates into a first-place tie with St. Louis in the NL Central. It's the latest in a season the Pirates are in first since July 17, 1997.

Neil Walker added an RBI single and Alex Presley scored twice for the Pirates, who have won six of their last eight.

Brett Myers (3-10) worked six innings in the loss, allowing five hits and three runs despite striking out a season-high 11 batters for the Astros, who fell to 1-10 in July.

Presley started the game with a single, stole second, moved to third on a fly out and scored on a Walker base hit.

The Bucs added two more scores in the third as Presley was hit by a pitch, Chase d'Arnaud singled and McCutchen plated both with a triple.

It was 4-0 for the visitors in the eighth as Garrett Jones walked and his pinch runner, Xavier Paul, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on a Jeff Keppinger error.

"It felt like I was throwing the ball well all game," said Myers. "I just came out without any force behind it."

Meanwhile, Karstens was in control throughout. A Hunter Pence single to start the second was erased when Carlos Lee grounded into a 5-4-3 double play, kicking off a stretch of 13 straight batters retired.

Even when pinch-hitter Chris Johnson singled to snap the string with two down in the sixth, and Michael Bourn reached on a nubber near the mound, Karstens induced an inning-ending fielder's choice grounder from Matt Downs.

Houston wasted runners on the corners and one out in the seventh after Brett Wallace grounded into a twin killing, before Karstens set down the final six batters to end the game.

Game Notes

Karstens last blanked the opposition on August 6, 2008 at Arizona, when he fanned four and gave up just two hits in a 2-0 Pittsburgh victory...He became the first Pirates hurler to win five straight decisions since Matt Capps in 2006...Prior to the contest, the Bucs activated left-handed reliever Joe Beimel off the 15-day disabled list and optioned left-hander Daniel Moskos to Triple-A Indianapolis to make room on the 25-man roster...Major League Baseball suspended Astros minor-league pitcher Manuel Sanchez for 50 games due to a drug-policy violation.






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    Pirates 4, Astros 0  FinalJul 18 11:53 AM


  • PITTSBURGH: 4
    HOUSTON: 0
    Final

    Jul 15 10:27 PM


  • Lyle Overbay safe at first on Jeff Keppinger's error scoring Xavier Paul with none out. Runner on first and Josh Harrison due up.

    Pirates 4, Astros 0  Top 8, 0 OutsJul 15 10:06 PM


  • Andrew McCutchen triple to center scored Alex Presley and Chase d`Arnaud with one out. Runner on third and Garrett Jones due up.

    Pirates 3, Astros 0  Top 3, 1 OutJul 15 8:43 PM


  • Neil Walker single to right scored Alex Presley with one out. Runner on first and Andrew McCutchen due up.

    Pirates 1, Astros 0  Top 1, 1 OutJul 15 8:12 PM


  • PITTSBURGH: 0
    HOUSTON: 0
    Top 1, 0 Outs

    Jul 15 8:06 PM
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    Pirates vs. AstrosJul 15 10:18 AM
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    Pirates vs. AstrosJul 7 6:01 AM