for this game

Saccomanno, Arias propel Astros past Pirates

Sep 9, 2008 - 4:57 AM By Gene Duffey PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Called up earlier in the day from Class AAA Round Rock, Mark Saccomanno hit the first pitch he saw in the major leagues into the bullpen in right field to ignite the Houston Astros to a 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday night.

Saccomanno, who was pinch hitting for Houston starter Alberto Arias in the fifth inning, drove Ian Snell's offering 382 feet with two outs and nobody on to break a scoreless tie. He became the fourth player in Astros history to homer in his first major league at-bat.

"I had been thinking about what I would do if I got in and I said I would take the first pitch," Saccomanno said. "(Round Rock manager) Dave Clark said, 'No, you're a first-pitch, fastball hitter.'"

The Astros (77-67), who have won 11 of 12 to pull within five games of the Milwaukee Brewers (82-62) in the National League wild card race, followed with four consecutive singles off Snell (6-11) by Michael Bourn, Darin Erstad, Miguel Tejada and Lance Berkman to score two more runs and build a 3-0 lead.

"Everybody's contributing," Astros manager Cecil Cooper said. "Tejada had a great double play in the fifth. We had five straight base hits with two outs. That's what this is all about."

Arias, making his first major-league start, tossed five scoreless innings to earn the victory. He had made 18 relief appearances over the last two seasons with the Colorado Rockies, including 12 in May of this season. The Astros claimed him off waivers from the Rockies on July 31 and sent him to Round Rock.

Arias (1-0) was perfect through three innings, striking out six, but he began to stumble in the fourth.

Nyger Morgan singled to lead off the inning. Arias, attempting to pick off Morgan, threw wildly to first, allowing Morgan to race all the way to third while first baseman Berkman chased the ball.

While Berkman began running the ball back to the infield, Morgan faked going home, then broke for the plate. Berkman threw him out with a perfect peg to catcher J.R. Towles.

"Good job getting to third," Pirates manager John Russell said of Morgan. "But with nobody out, stay there."

Two walks and a single loaded the bases for the Pirates, but Arias retired Brandon Moss on a grounder to third to escape the inning unscathed.

"It was very good for three innings," Arias said. "I was comfortable with my pitches. I make my pitches that I want to make. It was very good for me getting picked up by the Astros. I'm very happy to be here."

Houston manager Cecil Cooper decided to pinch hit for Arias after five, as the 24-year-old's night ended after 69 pitches. He allowed just the two singles, striking out six and walking three.

"Arias gave us a real solid start," Cooper said. "He was very efficient early, used his breaking ball. I think he deserves an opportunity to run out there again."

Pittsburgh struck back against lefthander Wesley Wright.

Morgan opened the sixth with a walk and moved to second on an error by second baseman David Newhan. Wright retired the next two hitters, but Adam LaRoche and Moss delivered back-to-back singles to score Morgan and Freddy Sanchez and cut Houston's lead to 3-2.

Doug Brocail came out of the Houston bullpen to retire Andy LaRoche on an infield out to end the inning.

Still clinging to a one-run lead, the Astros caught a break in the top of the eighth. Ryan Doumit singled for Pittsburgh with two outs before Adam LaRoche drove a ball more than 420 feet to dead center. Doumit would have scored easily on the hit, but the ball bounced into the stands for a ground-rule double, forcing him to stay at third.

"We got some breaks tonight," Cooper said. "When you're playing well, that's what happens."

LaTroy Hawkins struck out Moss looking to strand the two runners in scoring position.



Jose Valverde pitched a perfect ninth for Houston to earn his 41st save, which leads the National League. He collected a save in his 14th consecutive appearance, an Astros record.

With the Brewers dropping a 5-4 decision to the Cincinnati Reds on Monday, the Astros cut their deficit by yet another game as they attempt to make an improbable run to the playoffs. Overall, Houston is 27-10 since July 31, when it was in fifth place in the National League Central.








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

    BATTERIES: PIT - IAN SNELL, SEAN BURNETT (7TH), TYLER YATES (8TH), JOHN GRABOW
    (8TH) AND RYAN DOUMIT
    HOU - ALBERTO ARIAS, WESLEY WRIGHT (6TH), DOUG BROCAIL
    (6TH), CHRIS SAMPS

    Sep 8 10:54 PM
  • 45
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    RUWTbot Added 35 roots (Close Finish)

    Pirates 2, Astros 3  Bot 7, 0 OutsSep 8 10:11 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY BRANDON MOSS SCORED FREDDY SANCHEZ.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, B MOSS ON FIRST, A LAROCHE ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: PITTSBURGH 2
    HOUSTON 3 TOP, 6TH
    DUE UP FOR PITTSBURGH: AN LAROCHE (.178, 0-FOR-1, BB)

    Pirates 2, Astros 3  Top 6, 0 OutsSep 8 9:48 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY ADAM LAROCHE SCORED NYJER MORGAN.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, A LAROCHE ON FIRST, F SANCHEZ ON THIRD, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: PITTSBURGH 1
    HOUSTON 3 TOP, 6TH
    DUE UP FOR PITTSBURGH: B MOSS (.235, 0-FOR-2)

    Pirates 1, Astros 3  Top 6, 0 OutsSep 8 9:46 PM
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    McTool Added 5 roots

    Pirates 0, Astros 3  Top 6, 0 OutsSep 8 9:44 PM
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    RUWTbot Took away 27 roots

    Pirates 0, Astros 3  Top 6, 0 OutsSep 8 9:32 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY LANCE BERKMAN SCORED DARIN ERSTAD.
    SITUATION: 3 RUNS IN, L BERKMAN ON FIRST, M TEJADA ON THIRD, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: PITTSBURGH 0
    HOUSTON 3 BOTTOM, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: G BLUM (.234, 0-FOR-2)

    Pirates 0, Astros 3  Bot 5, 0 OutsSep 8 9:30 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY MIGUEL TEJADA SCORED MICHAEL BOURN.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, M TEJADA ON FIRST, D ERSTAD ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: PITTSBURGH 0
    HOUSTON 2 BOTTOM, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: L BERKMAN (.325, 0-FOR-1, BB)

    Pirates 0, Astros 2  Bot 5, 0 OutsSep 8 9:27 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY MARK SACCOMANNO (1) TO RIGHT WITH 2 OUT IN
    THE 5TH OFF IAN SNELL.
    CURRENT SCORE: PITTSBURGH 0, HOUSTON 1
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: M BOURN (.221, 0-FOR-1, BB)

    Pirates 0, Astros 1  Bot 5, 0 OutsSep 8 9:24 PM
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    RUWTbot Added 27 roots

    Pirates 0, Astros 0  Bot 5, 0 OutsSep 8 9:17 PM
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    aqualung1 Added 5 roots

    Pirates vs. AstrosApr 2 4:36 AM