for this game

Pence, Wolf help Astros snap five-game skid

Sep 20, 2008 - 3:12 AM By Chris Adamski PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- With their once-promising playoff hopes fading by the day, the Houston Astros finally broke out of their slump.

Hunter Pence drove in three runs and reached base four times to lead the Astros to a 5-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.

Houston had scored only five runs during its five-game losing streak since Hurricane Ike made its presence felt after posting a 14-1 record and averaging 4.9 runs per game during the previous 15 games game. Pence had gone 2-for-16 during the losing streak, but went 2-for-2 with a pair of walks on Friday.

"It's been a long week, man," Astros manager Cecil Cooper said. "It's been a long time since we got one. We haven't been able to get the big base hits and tonight we were able to get big base hits."

Randy Wolf had one of his best outings since being acquired by Houston over the summer, tossing seven strong innings to help his team get back on track. Wolf gave up just one run and three hits, while striking out seven and walking one. He recovered nicely from his last start, when he lasted just 2 2/3 innings and gave up five runs and six hits in a 5-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs last Sunday.

"Everybody knows we've been struggling a bit," Wolf said. "We had a combination of us not really hitting the ball and us coming across some pretty good pitching. But when you go out there thinking you have to pitch a shutout, it doesn't work. You just have to be aggressive and give these guys enough time to go score a few runs. It worked out for us today."

Wolf (11-12) improved to 5-2 with the Astros, who have emerged victorious in nine of his 11 starts since he was acquired from the San Diego Padres on July 22.

"We definitely needed it, and Randy stepped up and gave us seven really good innings," Cooper said. "He was pretty sharp ... I thought he was real focused. He kept us in the ballgame, and that's what you have to do. If we get good pitching, we'll be OK, and I thought Randy did a good job for us."

The Astros (81-72) took the lead on Pence's fourth-inning RBI single and never relinquished it. Pence added a two-run double in the eighth to give the Astros a bit of insurance.

"That monkey on your back gets bigger and bigger the more you don't win," Wolf said. "We're pretty much at a time of complete urgency where we pretty much have to win every game from here on out to give ourselves a chance. It's good. Tonight we got some big hits late in the game and broke the game open and pulled out a win. It feels like it's been a while with everything we've gone through."

Pirates starter Ian Snell went the first 3 1/3 innings without allowing a hit, but he did walk five batters in that time before Pence's single drove in Lance Berkman to snap the scoreless tie. Ty Wigginton followed with a groundout that brought Geoff Blum across the plate to make it 2-0.

Adam LaRoche cut the lead to 2-1 during the bottom of the inning with a solo homer to center field. It was his sixth home run in his last 11 games and 22nd RBI of September, second-most in the National League.

Snell (6-12) allowed two runs - one earned - and three hits in six innings, striking out three and walking five. He has won only four of his last 27 starts.

"I was fine; I just didn't expect to walk five people," Snell said. "I've been struggling all year with command. We limited the damage, the guys made plays behind me and I made important pitches when I needed them."

Houston got three insurance runs in the eighth, albeit the first was a peculiar one. With runners on first and second with two outs, Blum smacked a grounder toward first that hit the bag and popped up in the air back toward the infield near Pittsburgh second baseman Freddy Sanchez.

But Sanchez couldn't handle the ball, letting it bounce into shallow right. Kazuo Matsui scored on the play, and Pence followed with a double that drove in Berkman and Blum and gave the Astros a comfortable four-run cushion.

"It feels good to get a win," Pence said. "To have the type of pitching performance Randy Wolf gave really set the tone for us."

The Pirates have lost four of their past five and are 7-21 since August 20.

"You're not going to win too many games where you have four hits through nine innings," Pirates manager John Russell said.








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

    BATTERIES: HOU - RANDY WOLF, LATROY HAWKINS (8TH), TIM BYRDAK (9TH), JOSE
    VALVERDE (9TH) AND HUMBERTO QUINTERO
    PIT - IAN SNELL, DENNY BAUTISTA (7TH), JESSE CHAVEZ
    (9TH) AND R

    Sep 19 10:04 PM


  • NL
    AT PITTSBURGH - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY HUNTER PENCE SCORED LANCE BERKMAN AND GEOFF BLUM.
    SITUATION: 3 RUNS IN, H PENCE ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 5
    PITTSBURGH 1 TOP, 8TH
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: T WIGGINTON (.285, 0-FOR-3, RBI)

    Astros 5, Pirates 1  Top 8, 0 OutsSep 19 9:34 PM


  • NL
    AT PITTSBURGH - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY GEOFF BLUM SCORED KAZ MATSUI.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, G BLUM ON FIRST, L BERKMAN ON THIRD, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 3
    PITTSBURGH 1 TOP, 8TH
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: H PENCE (.270, 1-FOR-1, 2 BB, RBI)

    Astros 3, Pirates 1  Top 8, 0 OutsSep 19 9:31 PM
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    RUWTbot Took away 35 roots

    Astros 3, Pirates 1  Top 8, 0 OutsSep 19 9:31 PM
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    RUWTbot Added 35 roots (Close Finish)

    Astros 2, Pirates 1  Bot 7, 0 OutsSep 19 9:07 PM


  • NL
    AT PITTSBURGH - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY ADAM LAROCHE (23) TO CENTER WITH 2 OUT IN
    THE 4TH OFF RANDY WOLF.
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 2, PITTSBURGH 1
    DUE UP FOR PITTSBURGH: S PEARCE (.222, 0-FOR-1)

    Astros 2, Pirates 1  Bot 4, 0 OutsSep 19 8:26 PM


  • NL
    AT PITTSBURGH - SCORING UPDATE
    GROUND OUT BY TY WIGGINTON SCORED GEOFF BLUM.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, H PENCE ON THIRD, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 2
    PITTSBURGH 0 TOP, 4TH
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: H QUINTERO (.217, 0-FOR-0, BB)

    Astros 2, Pirates 0  Top 4, 0 OutsSep 19 8:17 PM


  • NL
    AT PITTSBURGH - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY HUNTER PENCE SCORED LANCE BERKMAN.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, H PENCE ON SECOND, G BLUM ON THIRD, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 1
    PITTSBURGH 0 TOP, 4TH
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: T WIGGINTON (.287, 0-FOR-1)

    Astros 1, Pirates 0  Top 4, 0 OutsSep 19 8:14 PM
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    Astros vs. PiratesSep 19 4:45 PM
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    Astros vs. PiratesSep 19 3:20 PM
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    Astros vs. PiratesSep 18 12:14 AM
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