for this game

Bay, Michaels lift Pirates past Astros

Jun 6, 2008 - 2:56 AM By Chris Adamski PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- For the first time in almost four weeks, the Pittsburgh Pirates got back-to-back wins from their starting pitchers.

Jason Michaels' three-run homer and Jason Bay's RBI triple provided all the offense, and Paul Maholm emerged from a shaky first two innings to shut down the Houston Astros through eight innings of the Pirates' 4-3 victory Thursday night.

Combined with Zach Duke's strong 7 2/3 innings Wednesday, the Pirates not only took the series, they got consecutive victories from their starters for the first time since May 10 and 12, when Tom Gorzelanny and Duke did it.

"I think it's a goal of all our starters to be efficient, to get deep into games and not force the bullpen to get too (taxed)," Maholm said. "Tonight it worked."

Bay's two-out triple in the fifth that Houston's Jose Cruz couldn't handle off the wall near straight-away center proved to be the winning hit, plating Nate McLouth.

Maholm (4-5) allowed three runs - two earned - on eight hits and no walks with one strikeout, and Matt Capps worked the ninth for his 13th save in as many opportunities. The Pirates won back-to-back games for the first time since May 24-25 and have won three of four.

Ex-Pirate Ty Wigginton was on base three times and scored a run and Hunter Pence had a run and an RBI for the Astros, who have lost seven of their last eight but scored more than two runs for the first time over that span.

Maholm gave Houston three runs on five hits in the first two innings before retiring 20 of the final 23 batters he faced.

"That's the way (Paul) is," Pittsburgh manager John Russell said. "He has that one inning. Then, he settled in and did really well. He did a great job from the third inning on."

Pence led off the game with a double and scored with two outs when Lance Berkman extended his hitting streak to 10 games by chopping a ball up the middle. Shortstop Jack Wilson's throw got past first baseman Adam LaRoche, allowing Pence to score for a 1-0 lead.

The Pirates answered with three in the bottom of the inning off Astros starter Brandon Backe on the strength of Michaels' second home run of the season - and second in as many at bats following his pinch-hit grand slam Monday in St. Louis. The blast just cleared the fence into the first row of seats in right-center.

Michaels was playing in place of team RBI leader Xavier Nady.

"That's my role on this team, to give the guys a day off," Michaels said. "It feels good, but it feels better to get a win. That's the main thing. I just try to go in there and keep things going."

The Astros tied it at 3-3 in the second when Backe's single drove in Wigginton for his second RBI of the season and Pence followed with a sacrifice fly that scored Brad Ausmus.

"After the second inning, I settled in and let them hit ground balls," Maholm said. "I tried to go as long as I could. It's my goal to be effective and get deep into the game."

Backe (4-7), who had won his previous four starts versus the Pirates, allowed four runs on nine hits and two walks in six innings, striking out two. He has lost four of his past six starts.

"I don't think I can blame myself on some of the pitches," Backe said. "Give them credit for putting the ball in play and finding holes and keeping the inning alive until someone drives them in. I hung a few up in the middle of the plate and they hit them hard. But I think for the most part I did OK. It just (stinks) that I came away with a loss and we couldn't pull it out."

Capps hit a batter and allowed an infield single in the ninth but retired Pence on a flyout to very deep center to end the game with runners at first and third.

"He hit that ball pretty good," Astros manager Cecil Cooper said. "It just wasn't our night. We were just a step short, it seems, like in every way."








  • NL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    HOUSTON 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 9 1
    PITTSBURGH 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 x 4 9 1 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: HOU - BRANDON BACKE, CHRIS SAMPSON (7TH), DOUG BROCAIL (8TH) AND
    BRAD AUSMUS
    PIT - PAUL MAHOLM, MATT CAPPS (9TH) AND RAUL CHAVEZ

    HOME RUNS: HOU - NONE
    PIT - JASON

    Jun 5 9:30 PM
  • 53
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 48 roots (Close Finish)

    Astros 3, Pirates 4  Top 9, 0 OutsJun 5 9:16 PM


  • NL
    AT PITTSBURGH - SCORING UPDATE
    TRIPLE BY JASON BAY SCORED NATE MCLOUTH.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, J BAY ON THIRD, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 3
    PITTSBURGH 4 BOTTOM, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR PITTSBURGH: J MICHAELS (.333, 1-FOR-2, HR, 3 RBI)

    Astros 3, Pirates 4  Bot 5, 0 OutsJun 5 8:33 PM


  • NL
    AT PITTSBURGH - SCORING UPDATE
    SACRIFICE FLY BY HUNTER PENCE SCORED BRAD AUSMUS.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, B BACKE ON FIRST, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 3
    PITTSBURGH 3 TOP, 2ND
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: K MATSUI (.275, 0-FOR-1)

    Astros 3, Pirates 3  Top 2, 0 OutsJun 5 7:40 PM


  • NL
    AT PITTSBURGH - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY BRANDON BACKE SCORED TY WIGGINTON.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, B BACKE ON FIRST, B AUSMUS ON THIRD, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 2
    PITTSBURGH 3 TOP, 2ND
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: H PENCE (.298, 1-FOR-1)

    Astros 2, Pirates 3  Top 2, 0 OutsJun 5 7:38 PM


  • NL
    AT PITTSBURGH - SCORING UPDATE
    THREE-RUN HOME RUN BY JASON MICHAELS (2) TO RIGHT CENTER
    WITH 2 OUT IN THE 1ST OFF BRANDON BACKE SCORED JACK WILSON AND JASON
    BAY.
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 1, PITTSBURGH 3
    DUE UP FOR PITTSBURGH: A LAROCHE (.213, 6 HR, 25 RBI)

    Astros 1, Pirates 3  Bot 1, 0 OutsJun 5 7:28 PM


  • NL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    HOUSTON 1 1 2 0
    PITTSBURGH 0 0 1 (BOT 1)

    CURRENT PITCHERS: HOU - BRANDON BACKE
    PIT - PAUL MAHOLM

    DUE UP FOR PITTSBURGH: J WILSON (.300, 0 HR, 2 RBI)
    F SANCHEZ (.243, 2 HR, 25 RBI)
    N MCLOUTH (.310, 13 HR, 43 RBI)

    Astros 1, Pirates 0  Bot 1, 0 OutsJun 5 7:14 PM
  • 5
    roots
    aqualung1 Added 5 roots

    Astros vs. PiratesApr 2 4:27 AM