Houston once again rallied late to beat back the Pirates. And once again the Pirates bats were held in check. Hunter Pence was at the center of Houston’s attack and J.A. Happ pitched well over six innings.
Houston’s early lead – earned when Carlos Lee singled in Pence with two outs in the third – was short lived. The Pirates put the first two men on via hit and then walk in the third only to come away empty. In the fourth Jose Tabata singled and Pedro Alvarez walked. Neil Walker sacrificed them over and Lastings Milledge delivered an RBI single to tie the game. Chris Snyder hit a sac fly to give the Pirates a 2-1 lead. Pittsburgh would get just one more hit the rest of the game as J.A. Happ and the Houston bullpen combined on a four hitter.
Jeff Karstens made that lead last until the sixth inning. Hunter Pence (of course) led off with a double. He moved to third on Lee’s fly out and scored on a sac fly from Jeff Keppinger. With two out and no one one, the hope would be for Karstens to get out of it. But an HBP and two consecutive singles – the last one by Jason Castro – put Houston up by one. Karstens was gone in favor of Sean Gallagher and he was greeted by a two run double from Pedro Feliz.
Houston added a couple of insurance runs late. In the seventh Pence drove in a run with a double and later scored on another Keppinger sac fly. In the eighth, Chris Johnson hit a solo homer.
Karstens went 5-2/3 and gave up five runs on seven hits. He walked none and struck out five. Happ was the winner. He walked four but allowed only three hits and two runs in six innings.
Alvarez drew three walks.
Only getting four singles.
Karstens is 1-2 against Houston. Happ is 2-1 against the Pirates.
Pittsburgh has lost seven straight. The Pirates have scored just 15 runs in that stretch. And they have given up 38 runs.
Pence collected seven hits in the series.