The Pirates took advantage of limited scoring opportunities as Garrett Jones three run homer helped propel the Pirates to a series sweep in Houston. The win puts the Pirates two games over .500.
Jones’ dinger came in the first on a two strike, two out pitch from rookie Jordan Lyles. It scored Jose Tabata and Andrew McCutchen.
Houston wiggled back to tie the game. In the fourth Brett Wallace walked and Matt Downs doubled to start the inning against James McDonald. A ground ball out from Angel Sanchez scored one run and Carlos Corporan’s sac fly made it 3-2.
Pesky Michael Bourn walked to lead off the fifth. He scored on a double from Hunter Pence that tied the game.
Pittsburgh forged ahead in the sixth with help from Bourn. McCutchen and Neil Walker singled with one out. Bourn mishandled a line drive from Jones, allowing McCutchen to score. Josh Harrison doubled, pushing Walker across and giving the Bucs a 5-3 lead. Jones was thrown out at the plate on the play.
Tony Watson relieved McDonald with two outs in the sixth and a runner on second. He tossed two scoreless innings and Tim Wood got the final out of the eighth. He handed it off to Jose Veras (with Joel Hanrahan unavailable after having recorded three straight saves). Jason Bourgeois led off with a single. He stole second and moved to third on a ground ball out from Bourn. Jeff Keppinger singled him in, making it 4-3. Keppinger moved to second on a grounder from Pence. That brought up Carlos Lee and his grounder to Brandon Wood at third was originally misplayed. But Wood ran it down and gunned out Lee at first by a hair. Game over.
McDonald gave up three runs on seven hits in 5-2/3 innings. He walked four and struck out four. Lyles was tagged with the loss. He also pitched 5-2/3 innings. He gave up three earned runs (five overall) on four hits. He walked one and struck out eight.
Two games over .500!
I’ll take that from McDonald.
Bucs whiffed eleven times and got just seven hits.
Bucs were last two games over .500 on July 2, 1999. Two days later – July 4, 1999 – was the day the music died in Pittsburgh. Jason Kendall’s ankle practically exploded as he stepped awkwardly on first base. He missed the rest of that season. Other than Andy Van Slyke breaking his collar bone on June 14, 1993, I count this as the worst ‘I remember where I was when I heard the news’ Pirate injury of the last 20 years.
MLB overturned McCutchen’s double against the Mets over the weekend, ending his consecutive game hitting streak ex post facto.
I caught the tail end of this game on SiriusXM radio on my drive home. Milo Hamilton is still the Astros play-by-play announcer. His book
Making Airwaves is an interesting read. He has a pretty high opinion of himself. In describing his brief time with the Cubs, he suggests that the Cubs fans preferred him over Harry Caray. Um, right.
This was the first career decision for each pitcher against this particular opponent.
Jones hadn’t homered since 5/2/11.
Veras hadn’t recorded a save since 9/29/07.
McDonald’s fifth win on the year matches his career best.Pirates Prospects is FREE today in honor of the Wild Card game. You get special access to all of our content, which is typically reserved only for subscribers. We cover the Pirates 365 days a year, with live coverage all throughout the playoffs, and off-season coverage of the minor league players in the Arizona Fall League and Winter Leagues. During the season we average well over 6 articles per day on the Pirates. This is the best stop if you're a hardcore Pirates fan, and the subscription prices are very low.
Our lowest rates are $2.22 per month under our Top Prospect Plan, which also gets you a FREE copy of the 2016 Prospect Guide -- a book that features profiles on every prospect in the system. We also have a promotion with DraftKings where you can get a FREE one-year subscription to the site by signing up as a new DraftKings customer and making a $5 minimum deposit. Subscribe today for our full playoff coverage, and all of our daily coverage of the Pirates' system.