Astros 4, Pirates 2(11)

The Houston Astros haven’t had many wins to celebrate so far

this season. This one was especially satisfying for manager Bo

Porter.

Jason Castro led off the 11th inning with a double and scored

the go-ahead run on a close play at the plate as the Astros topped

the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-2 on Saturday night.

”Even though we’ve had our share of bumps and bruises, we’re

going to hit a stretch where we start playing well and put together

a string of games like we played tonight,” Porter said. ”It’s a

tremendous group of guys in that clubhouse. It’s a resilient group.

They have fun together. They love playing game. They play

hard.”

Castro doubled off the top of the center-field fence against

Bryan Morris (1-2), and Carlos Pena was intentionally walked one

out later. The runners moved up on a wild pitch and Castro scored

when he beat second baseman Neil Walker’s throw home on Matt

Dominguez’s fielder’s choice grounder.

Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle argued the call with plate

umpire C.B. Bucknor and was ejected. Pinch-hitter J.D. Martinez

followed with an RBI single to make it 4-2.

”I thought he was out, but I watched the replay and I was

wrong. C.B. got the call right,” Hurdle said.

Porter credited got baserunning on Castro’s part for scoring the

winning run.

”Castro had a great heads-up read on contact and made a great

slide,” Porter said.

Rookie Jose Cisnero (1-0) struck out five in 3 2-3 scoreless

relief innings for his first major league win. Jose Veras pitched a

scoreless 11th for his sixth save as Houston (12-31) won for the

second time in three games since losing six in a row.

”Anytime you get that kind of push like that from someone out

of the bullpen, he probably should have got the win and the save,

too,” Hurdle said.

Porter was hoping Cisnero could provide multiple innings from a

bullpen that has been overworked of late.

”In that situation, we have some guys who have been worked hard

the last few days,” Porter said. ”We didn’t have many guys

available. Most of the guys we had (warming) up were for show. It

was pretty his game until we took the lead and then we were going

to hand it over to Veras.”

Chris Carter’s run-scoring single in the eighth inning tied the

game at 2 and ended Mark Melancon’s string of 13 consecutive

scoreless relief appearances, covering 13 innings.

Houston’s Jose Altuve had three hits to raise his batting

average to .342 after being activated from the bereavement list

before the game. Altuve missed three games after his grandmother

died in his native Venezuela.

Andrew McCutchen hit two doubles and Brandon Inge had two hits

for Pittsburgh, which lost for the second time in nine games.

Pittsburgh starter A.J. Burnett held Houston to one run in seven

innings while allowing five hits and four walks, but wound up with

a no-decision when Melancon could not hold the lead. Burnett struck

out seven to raise his National League-leading total to 79. He has

not allowed more than three earned runs in any of his 10 starts

this season.

”You can talk about (the Astros’) record, but they’re all big

leaguers, they’re all up here for a reason,” Burnett said. ”They

battled me. They had some really good swings with two strikes and

they fought off some tough pitches. I felt good to get out of it

with only one run allowed.”

The Astros’ Erik Bedard gave up two runs and seven hits in six

innings with three strikeouts and no walks in his first career

start against Pittsburgh. The veteran left-hander was the Pirates’

opening day starter last season, but was released on Aug. 30 after

going 7-14.

”You don’t really think about who it’s against,” Bedard said.

”You just want to win the ballgame.”

Inge put Pittsburgh in front 2-1 in the sixth when he hit a

two-out RBI single to left field off Bedard.

The Pirates scored the game’s first run on consecutive doubles

by McCutchen and Gaby Sanchez with two outs in the first

inning.

Houston tied in the fifth on Altuve’s two-out RBI single.

NOTES: Houston INF Jake Elmore was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma

City to make room on the roster for Altuve. … Porter said

Saturday that OF Brandon Barnes, his best defensive outfielder, was

unavailable to play in Friday night’s 5-4 loss to Pittsburgh

because of a sprained right ankle. That is why RF Jimmy Paredes,

who dropped Pittsburgh C Russell Martin’s two-out fly ball in the

ninth inning to allow the winning run to score, was in the game. On

Saturday, Barnes entered in the bottom of the 11th for defensive

purposes. … Pirates RHP Jeff Karstens (right shoulder

inflammation) allowed two unearned runs in four innings Saturday

night for Double-A Altoona in a rehab start at Richmond in the

Eastern League. … The three-game series concludes Sunday with

Houston RHP Lucas Harrell (3-4, 5.11) pitching against LHP Jeff

Locke (3-1, 3.15).