for this game

Pirates rally in 9th, send Astros to 11th straight loss

Jul 28, 2012 - 5:44 AM Houston, TX (Sports Network) - Drew Sutton hustled home from third with the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth inning thanks to a Xavier Cedeno wild pitch and the Pittsburgh Pirates escaped Minute Maid Park with a 6-5 win over the Astros in the second test of a four-game series.

Trailing, 5-4, entering the ninth inning, Michael McKenry smoked a single to left off Rhiner Cruz (1-1), and pinch-hitters Sutton and Casey McGehee drew walks to load the bases with one out.

Starling Marte, one night after crushing his first major league home run on the first pitch he saw, knocked home the tying run with a sacrifice fly. Rod Barajas then came up to face Cedeno, who fired one that skipped all the way to the backstop and allowed Sutton to score.

"It's definitely a sign of a maturing team," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of his squad's late-inning resiliency. "But, the wild pitch, you have no control over that. If you get it, yeah, you'll score."

Tony Watson (5-1) earned the win with a perfect inning of relief work, and Joel Hanrahan came on in the ninth and turned away the Astros, who lost for the 11th straight time.

Hanrahan collected his 31st save of the season for the Pirates, winners in 15 of their last 21 contests.

McKenry smoked a two-run home run and Alex Presley added a solo shot for the Bucs, while Andrew McCutchen went 2-for-4 and raised his major league-leading average to .369.

Chris Johnson went 3-for-4 with a solo shot and two runs scored and finished a single shy of the cycle, while Ben Francisco added a solo homer in the setback for the Astros.

"The ninth inning was tough," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "It beats up on everybody, but these guys were battling so well all the way through, and I'm sure they're going to come out tomorrow and do the same thing."

After leaving a runner in scoring position in their first at-bat, the Astros opened the scoring with two runs in the second. J.D. Martinez began the frame with a base hit and came around to score on a single by Francisco to give the Astros the early lead. Starter Jordan Lyles then reached on a perfect sacrifice bunt, allowing Justin Maxwell to cross the plate.

Houston added a run in the third when Johnson led off the frame by launching a hanging curveball from Pirates starter Jeff Karstens into the stands in left, extending the lead to 3-0.

The Pirates got a run back in the fourth on a solo shot down the line in right by Presley, but the Astros got it right back in the home portion of the inning when Francisco got a breaking ball and hooked it into the Crawford Boxes in right, widening the margin to 4-1.

The Bucs cut the deficit to one in the fifth when Pedro Alvarez started the frame with a single and McKenry smoked a curveball from Lyles into the right field seats for his ninth long ball of the season.

McKenry doubled down the line in left to start the Pittsburgh seventh, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Clint Barmes and scored via a Josh Harrison sacrifice fly, knotting the game at four.

Johnson ripped a leadoff triple to the hill in center field in the home seventh and scored on an RBI single up the middle by Martinez to give the Astros a 5-4 advantage.

Game Notes

The Pirates have hit at least one home run in 17 consecutive road games and won for just the second time this season when trailing after eight innings...The Pirates improved to 8-1 against the Astros this season...11 straight losses tied an Astros franchise record established in 1995...Former Cy Young winner and Astros great Mike Scott threw out the ceremonial first pitch...Karstens allowed four runs on six hits and three walks with seven strikeouts in five innings...Lyles yielded four runs on seven hits over six- plus innings with eight strikeouts and no walks.