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McCutchen helps Pirates knock off Astros

May 13, 2012 - 4:06 AM Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - Andrew McCutchen finished the game with four hits, including a solo homer, as the Pirates defeated the Astros, 5-2, in the middle test of a three-game series at PNC Park on Saturday.

Charlie Morton (2-3) allowed two runs -- one earned -- on seven hits and a walk over six innings to notch the victory and Juan Cruz spun a scoreless ninth to record his third save of the season.

Jose Tabata added a solo homer and scored twice, while Neil Walker also knocked in a run as the Pirates snapped a brief two-game skid.

J.A. Happ (2-3) tossed five-plus innings and was charged for all five runs on six hits and a walk. Jordan Schafer smacked an RBI double and Jose Altuve scored a run for the Astros, who have dropped four of their last six games.

After being blanked 1-0 in Friday's opener, Pittsburgh got on the board early as Tabata launched a leadoff triple into the gap in right-center field and quickly scored on a sacrifice fly from Walker.

"It's real good," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle about scoring in the first inning. "That will make you smile. It made them smile as well. We just found ways to keep scratching and clawing."

Pittsburgh doubled its advantage in the third as McCutchen crushed a two-out solo home run into the seats in right-center field.

Houston trimmed its deficit in half in the fifth on Schafer's double. But the Pirates answered with two outs in the bottom half of the frame as Tabata's solo blast to right restored a two-run advantage for the Bucs.

The Astros loaded the bases in the sixth with three consecutive singles to start the frame, but Morton minimized the damage by getting Justin Maxwell to ground into a run-scoring fielder's choice before inducing an inning-ending double-play from Matt Downs to escape the frame with a 3-2 edge.

Pittsburgh responded in the bottom half as McCutchen singled, Pedro Alvarez doubled and Casey McGehee walked to load the bags and chase Happ from the game.

Rhiner Cruz entered and got pinch-hitter Garrett Jones to ground into a force out at home. Cruz then served up a sacrifice fly to Clint Barmes before firing a wild pitch that scored McGehee from third to make it a 5-2 contest.

"Obviously the sixth inning was huge," said Houston manager Brad Mills. "We had the bases loaded and nobody out and only score the one run. Then they had second and third and we were just about ready to get out of it and they were able to sneak a couple in on a sac fly and a wild pitch."

Game Notes

Happ dropped to 3-3 in nine lifetime games vs. Pittsburgh...Morton improved to 11-1 since the beginning of last year when he receives at least three runs of support...Pittsburgh went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and left six on base, while Houston was 2-for-13 with RISP and stranded seven.

  • HOUSTON: 2

    May 12 10:07 PM
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    Astros 2, Pirates 5  Top 9, 2 OutsMay 12 10:05 PM
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    Astros 2, Pirates 5  Top 7, 0 OutsMay 12 9:19 PM

  • Rhiner Cruz wild pitch scored Casey McGehee. Garrett Jones advances to third on a wild pitch. Runner on third with two outs and Michael McKenry at the plate.

    Astros 2, Pirates 5  Bot 6, 2 OutsMay 12 9:10 PM

  • Clint Barmes sacrifice fly to center scored Pedro Alvarez. On the play, Garrett Jones advances to second and Casey McGehee advances to third. Runners on second and third and with two outs and Michael McKenry due up.

    Astros 2, Pirates 4  Bot 6, 2 OutsMay 12 9:07 PM
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    Astros 2, Pirates 3  Mid 6May 12 8:53 PM

  • Justin Maxwell'sinto a fielder's choice from short to third scored Jose Altuve. On the play, Brian Bogusevic advances to second and Carlos Lee out at third. Runners on first and second with one out and Matt Downs due up.

    Astros 2, Pirates 3  Top 6, 1 OutMay 12 8:52 PM
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  • Jose Tabata two-out, solo Home Run (2) to right. Neil Walker is due up.

    Astros 1, Pirates 3  Bot 5, 2 OutsMay 12 8:40 PM

  • Jordan Schafer doubled to right scoring Chris Snyder. Runner on second with two outs and Jed Lowrie due up.

    Astros 1, Pirates 2  Top 5, 2 OutsMay 12 8:29 PM
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    Astros 0, Pirates 2  Top 5, 2 OutsMay 12 8:27 PM

  • Andrew McCutchen two-out, solo Home Run (3) to right-center. Pedro Alvarez is due up.

    Astros 0, Pirates 2  Bot 3, 2 OutsMay 12 8:09 PM

  • Neil Walker sacrifice fly to right scored Jose Tabata. None on with one out and Andrew McCutchen due up.

    Astros 0, Pirates 1  Bot 1, 1 OutMay 12 7:21 PM

  • HOUSTON: 0
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    Astros vs. PiratesDec 20 6:02 AM