Jeff Locke (0-1, 5.49) vs Edgar Gonzalez (2-1, 4.40)
If it hadn't been such an awful season for the Astros, almost I would feel bad for the Pirates. They were in first place in the NL Central as late as July 18, and stayed in second through August 21, but they came to town a game under .500 and in very real danger of making this their 20th consecutive losing season. However, I'd still rather see the Astros win, no matter the opponent. It's a happy night for Houston fans, as they down Pittsburgh 7-1 and move to 49-102 overall.
*Edgar Gonzalez had a short night, but not due to ineffectiveness; he left in the 2nd with a right hamstring strain. Before that point, he put up a 1.2 IP / 1 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 1 BB / 1 K line. Fernando Rodriguez came in and came up big, adding a 3.1 IP / 2 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 4 K line, which would earn him the win. Jose Valdez (0.1 IP) and Xavier Cedeno (0.2 IP) combined on a scoreless 6th, Mickey Storey struck out the side in order in the 7th, and Wilton Lopez closed it out with a scoreless 9th. Only Rhiner Cruz let the Pirates to get on the board, surrendering a solo homer to Garrett Jones in the 8th.
*After an afternoon of missed opportunities yesterday, Houston did a much better job of capitalizing on their chances tonight. They scored 7 runs on just 6 hits, aided by 7 walks and a trio of homers. It was Houston's first 3 HR game since August 14 at Wrigley.
*Jed Lowrie had the biggest blow, launching a 3-run HR to the Crawford Boxes in the 1st - his 15th of the year and his first since June 26, before his injury. He finished 1 for 3 with 3 RBI, 2 R, a HBP, and a K.
*Not to be outdone, Justin Maxwell stroked a solo shot of his own into the Crawford Boxes in the 6th, extending his team-leading total to 17. He ended up 1 for 2 with 2 R and 2 BB on the night.
*Brett Wallace struck twice, with a RBI triple in the 6th and a solo blast in the 7th, to go 2 for 4 with two runs scored.
*Jose Altuve doubled and went 1 for 4 with a HBP, a RBI, a SB (32), and a K, to go with a great diving stop in Pittsburgh's half of the 6th that likely saved at least one run.
*Brandon Barnes had the other hit and went 1 for 3 with a run scored, two walks, and two strikeouts.
Jed Lowrie gave Houston all the runs they would need in the 1st, but before they broke it open, Pittsburgh threatened in the 6th. Jose Valdez started the inning with a single to Starling Marte. Clint Barmes was next and grounded hard up the middle, but Jose Altuve made a highlight-reel diving stop, then flipped the ball over his back to Lowrie for the force at second. Andrew McCutchen followed with a single that moved Barmes to second and brought Xavier Cedeno into the game. Cedeno got Garrett Jones to fly to center for the second out, then walked Gaby Sanchez to load the bases. Pedro Alvarez - he of 29 HR - was up next, but Cedeno got the huge strikeout to keep the game in Houston's favor.
Man of the Match:
Jed Lowrie! Great to see his power stroke on display again. Honorable mentions to Brett Wallace and Fernando Rodriguez.
A win tomorrow will get the Astros back to .500 in September. Let's finish strong.