for this game

Pirates stun Astros with seven in ninth

Jul 22, 2008 - 5:44 AM By Gene Duffey PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Jason Bay and Adam LaRoche jumped on Houston Astros closer Jose Valverde for home runs in the ninth inning and Freddy Sanchez added an inside-the-park homer in a seven-run inning as the Pittsburgh Pirates stunned the Astros, 9-3, on Monday night.

Houston led 3-2 entering the top of the ninth when Bay hit a 3-2 pitch with one out for his 20th homer to tie the game. Xavier Nady then singled and Adam LaRoche hit the first pitch for a two-run homer, his 12th, and Pittsburgh was on its way to snapping a five-game losing streak.

"He threw me some tough ones before that that I was able to foul off," Bay said of his homer off Valverde. "You're talking about a guy who throws 97, 98 and a split-finger 10 miles per hour slower. If you're not ready, one of those is going to beat you. He made a mistake and I was able to capitalize."

LaRoche's homer won it.

"The goal is to get that run in anyway you can," said LaRoche, who stepped to the plate with a runner on first and one out. "It's not a position where you're trying to hit one out. You're trying to drive something in the gap. I got a ball over the plate and hit it hard and it ended up going out.

"It's always tough facing a closer. That's why they're a closer. There's something to be said for the butterflies in the ninth inning. A lot of guys tend to try to do too much. We took some tough pitches and put some good swings on the strikes."

The Pirates hadn't won since July 12 and had scored three or fewer runs in their last four games.

"It was obviously a big lift for us, to jump on their closer for seven runs," Pittsburgh manager John Russell said.

"It was looking like the same old story for the last four days," Bay said of the Pirates leaving 12 runners on base through eight innings.

Valverde (4-3) had saved 25 of 30 opportunities before Monday and his last blown save was July 6.

"This is my first time to have a bad day like this," said Valverde, who gave up five hits and was charged with six of the seven runs. "My split-finger was OK, but I didn't have control of my fastball. I want to be called on tomorrow in the same position."

Houston manager Cecil Cooper hasn't lost any confidence in his closer.

"He gave up a little too much of the plate," Cooper said. "He did not have real good control. But Jose has been rock solid for us all year long."

Sanchez, who struggled offensively in the first half of the season, concluded his 3-for-6 night with the inside-the-parker. The drive came off Tim Byrdak, who had replaced Valverde. The ball ricocheted off the bullpen screen in right field and away from outfielder Hunter Pence all the way to the right field foul line.

"After I reached third I was out of breath," said Sanchez, who was thrown out at the plate last year attempting for an inside-the-park home run vs. the Cubs at Pittsburgh.

Sanchez made a key play earlier in the game when he scored from second with two outs on a ground single up the middle by Bay. Houston shortstop Miguel Tejada fielded it but was unable to throw out Bay at first.

"I tried to read our third base coach and he was waving me the whole way," Sanchez said. "I didn't see the throw to (first baseman Lance) Berkman, I was just running."

"I owe him a steak dinner for that," Bay said of collecting the extra RBI.

"It was an aggressive play," Russell said. "When you're not scoring runs, you try to push anything you get."

The Astros experienced a frustrating night offensively.

"We had chances to blow this game out, but we left 13 men on base," Cooper said.

Carlos Lee drove in two of Houston's runs with singles, giving him 80 RBI.

Tyler Yates, who pitched the bottom of the eighth, collected the win to improve to 4-2. Danny Bautista pitched the ninth.

Both starters, Runelvys Hernandez for Houston and John Van Benschoten for Pittsburgh, were called up from Class AAA to specifically start Monday Hernandez was replacing Roy Oswalt, who was placed on the disabled list Saturday with a hip injury. Van Benschoten moved into Pittsburgh rotation that was shuffled after the All-Star break.

They entered the game with a combined 1-5 record and ERAs in the neighborhood of 10.00 in the majors.

Both pitchers escaped serious damage while their teams filled the bases with runners they couldn't drive home. Van Benschoten lasted five innings before leaving for a pinch hitter. He allowed six hits and three runs, struck out four and walked four.

"When he was on the plate, his stuff was really good," Russell said. "His ball-to-strike ratio (42 balls, 50 strikes) wasn't great."

"The sinker was there all night," Van Benschoten said. "Sometimes you can't keep that thing on the plate as much as I'd like. I definitely had to prove (tonight) that I belong here and that I can throw strikes."

Hernandez pitched 5 1/3 innings, giving up eight hits and two runs while striking out three.

"I felt very good," Hernandez said. "I hit all the spots. I feel like I can come back and build off this."








  • NL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    PITTSBURGH 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 7 9 18 1
    HOUSTON 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 3 10 0 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: PIT - JOHN VAN BENSCHOTEN, SEAN BURNETT (6TH), JOHN GRABOW (6TH),
    TYLER YATES (8TH), DENNY BAUTISTA (9TH) AND RYAN DOUMIT
    HOU - RUNELVYS HERNANDEZ, GEOFF GEARY (6TH

    Jul 21 11:48 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    THREE-RUN INSIDE-THE-PARK HOME RUN BY FREDDY SANCHEZ (6) TO
    DEEP RIGHT WITH 2 OUT IN THE 9TH OFF TIM BYRDAK SCORED JASON MICHAELS
    AND JACK WILSON.
    CURRENT SCORE: PITTSBURGH 9, HOUSTON 3
    DUE UP FOR PITTSBURGH: R DOUMIT (.323, 0-FOR-5)

    Pirates 9, Astros 3  Top 9, 0 OutsJul 21 11:34 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY JACK WILSON SCORED JOSE BAUTISTA.
    SITUATION: 4 RUNS IN, J WILSON ON FIRST, J MICHAELS ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: PITTSBURGH 6
    HOUSTON 3 TOP, 9TH
    DUE UP FOR PITTSBURGH: N MCLOUTH (.281, 3-FOR-5)

    Pirates 6, Astros 3  Top 9, 0 OutsJul 21 11:29 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    TWO-RUN HOME RUN BY ADAM LAROCHE (12) TO LEFT WITH 1 OUT IN
    THE 9TH OFF JOSE VALVERDE SCORED XAVIER NADY.
    CURRENT SCORE: PITTSBURGH 5, HOUSTON 3
    DUE UP FOR PITTSBURGH: J BAUTISTA (.250, 1-FOR-4)

    Pirates 5, Astros 3  Top 9, 0 OutsJul 21 11:22 PM
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    RUWTbot Took away 72 roots

    Pirates 5, Astros 3  Top 9, 0 OutsJul 21 11:22 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY JASON BAY (20) TO LEFT WITH 1 OUT IN THE
    9TH OFF JOSE VALVERDE.
    CURRENT SCORE: PITTSBURGH 3, HOUSTON 3
    DUE UP FOR PITTSBURGH: X NADY (.325, 2-FOR-4)

    Pirates 3, Astros 3  Top 9, 0 OutsJul 21 11:20 PM
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    RUWTbot Added 57 roots (Close Finish)

    Pirates 3, Astros 3  Top 9, 0 OutsJul 21 11:20 PM
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    RUWTbot Added 35 roots (Close Finish)

    Pirates 2, Astros 3  Bot 7, 0 OutsJul 21 10:36 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY CARLOS LEE SCORED MICHAEL BOURN.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, C LEE ON FIRST, L BERKMAN ON THIRD, 0 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: PITTSBURGH 2
    HOUSTON 3 BOTTOM, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: M TEJADA (.281, 0-FOR-2)

    Pirates 2, Astros 3  Bot 5, 0 OutsJul 21 9:42 PM
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    Pirates 2, Astros 3  Bot 5, 0 OutsJul 21 9:42 PM
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    Pirates 2, Astros 2  Bot 5, 0 OutsJul 21 9:33 PM
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    McTool Added 5 roots

    Pirates 2, Astros 2  Top 5, 0 OutsJul 21 9:29 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY FREDDY SANCHEZ SCORED NATE MCLOUTH.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, F SANCHEZ ON FIRST, 0 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: PITTSBURGH 2
    HOUSTON 2 TOP, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR PITTSBURGH: R DOUMIT (.327, 0-FOR-2)

    Pirates 2, Astros 2  Top 5, 0 OutsJul 21 9:28 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY BRAD AUSMUS SCORED HUNTER PENCE.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, B AUSMUS ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: PITTSBURGH 1
    HOUSTON 2 BOTTOM, 4TH
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: R HERNANDEZ (.333, 0-FOR-1)

    Pirates 1, Astros 2  Bot 4, 0 OutsJul 21 9:20 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY CARLOS LEE SCORED KAZ MATSUI.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, C LEE ON FIRST, L BERKMAN ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: PITTSBURGH 1
    HOUSTON 1 BOTTOM, 3RD
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: M TEJADA (.281, 0-FOR-1)

    Pirates 1, Astros 1  Bot 3, 0 OutsJul 21 9:04 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY JASON BAY SCORED FREDDY SANCHEZ.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, J BAY ON FIRST, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: PITTSBURGH 1
    HOUSTON 0 TOP, 3RD
    DUE UP FOR PITTSBURGH: X NADY (.322, 0-FOR-1)

    Pirates 1, Astros 0  Top 3, 0 OutsJul 21 8:50 PM
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    Pirates vs. AstrosJul 21 8:16 AM
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    aqualung1 Added 5 roots

    Pirates vs. AstrosApr 2 4:34 AM