The Pirates scored twice in the first and left the bases loaded in the second. Other than that, Bud Norris was dominant. He whiffed 14 in seven innings and Hunter Pence powered the Astros come from behind win.
The Pirates got it going early. Andrew McCutchen led off the game with a triple. Garrett Jones – hitting in the two spot – homered. Jose Tabata reached on an error. Norris remained unfazed and whiffed the next three Pirate hitters. In the second the Pirates were unable to score despite Jeff Clement and Argenis Diaz each singling to start the inning. Pirates starter Paul Maholm’s successful sacrifice moved them up a base. But they would move no more. Jones got a free pass with two gone and Tabata was retired.
Houston got one back in the fourth when Hunter Pence led off with a homer. Pence doubled leading off the sixth but was thrown out at home on an infield grounder later in the inning. The seventh would prove to be a turning point. Angel Sanchez delivered a two out RBI single, scoring Humberto Quintero with the tying run. Pence (him again) doubled in Sanchez to break the tie. Maholm was pulled for Chris Resop.
After the second, the Pirates didn’t advance a runner past second base. Brandon Lyon pitched the ninth for the save.
Maholm allowed three runs in 6-2/3. He gave up nine hits and walked one. He struck out four Astros. Norris gave up five hits – just one after the second – in seven innings. He whiffed 14 and walked one – the free pass to Jones.
No complaints about Maholm’s outing.
Clement had two hits
Bucs struck out a total of 17 times.
Norris is 2-1 against Pittsburgh. Maholm is 9-6 against Houston.
Norris previously set his career high in whiffs with 10 against Tampa Bay on 5/23/10 in five innings.
Pence has six games in 2010 with three or more hits.
Jones’ homer was his 17th. Barring a hot final six weeks, this will be the fourth straight season in which a Pirate hitter has failed to hit 30 or more homers. Last Buc to bash 30 dingers was Jason Bay in 2006.