Astros 6, Pirates 2
Wandy Rodriguez insists he hasn’t changed anything over his last
few starts. He’s just found his pointpoint location.
The 31-year-old left-hander struck out 10 and allowed four
singles in seven innings and the Astros snapped a three-game losing
streak with a 6-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday
Rodriguez (6-10) has won his last three starts, the longest
winning streak by an Astro this season. He’s allowed only two
earned runs in those starts for a 0.90 ERA.
“Nothing different,” he said. “I try to throw the ball where
I want, and I just throw my pitches. I’m the same. I’ve felt great
the last three starts. When I have good command on my breaking ball
and fastball, you can see a lot of games like this.”
The Astros tabbed him as the No. 2 starter behind ace Roy Oswalt
coming into the season, hoping he could improve on last year’s
14-12 record. But Rodriguez lost four of his first five decisions
and dropped six of seven between May and June before starting his
Carlos Lee and Lance Berkman homered and Michael Bourn scored
two runs for the Astros, who’ve won all four meetings with the
Pirates this season.
Rodriguez finished one strikeout shy of his career high, which
he last reached almost exactly a year ago against Pittsburgh. He
gave up two walks, both in the first inning, and reached
double-digit strikeouts for the fifth time in his career.
“We knew that he had the ability to throw like that,” manager
Brad Mills said. “He threw like this several times last year. He’s
just built good start after good start after good start, and that’s
what we were looking for, to be able to put it all together.”
The Astros staked Rodriguez to a 2-0 lead in the first inning
off Pittsburgh starter Brad Lincoln (1-3), a rookie who played at
the University of Houston.
Bourn, selected to the NL All-Star team by manager Charlie
Manuel, led off with an infield single and stole second. He
advanced on Jeff Keppinger’s flyout and scored on Berkman’s
Lee followed with a solo home run to left center, his 11th of
Bourn singled and scored again in the third, rounding the bases
on Keppinger’s double off the left-field scoreboard. Berkman then
homered into the left-field balcony, just inside the foul pole, for
a 5-0 lead.
Lincoln allowed five runs on seven hits in his sixth career
major-league start. He played in front of about 200 friends and
family, but said that added pressure didn’t affect his
“I wasn’t really that emotional,” Lincoln said. “I had some
butterflies in the first inning, but I just couldn’t get
comfortable out there, couldn’t find the strike zone with my
Rodriguez, meanwhile, retired eight hitters in a row – three on
strikeouts – after the two walks in the first inning.
Andrew McCutchen led off the fourth with a single, Pittsburgh’s
first hit. McCutchen eventually scored on Ryan Doumit’s single to
left. Rodriguez escaped a one-out, bases-loaded jam later in the
inning, getting Bobby Crosby to pop up before striking out
Rodriguez was sharp again in the sixth, striking out Pedro
Alvarez and Doumit. He fanned Crosby and pinch hitter Andy LaRoche
in the seventh to set a new season high.
“He’s been throwing the ball well, throwing the ball with
confidence,” Mills said. “It’s just being able to put into play
and bringing to the game what they’ve been working on, and then
he’s been able to build some confidence with that.”
The Astros added another run in the seventh off Javier Lopez.
Garrett Jones drove in a run with a single in the eighth against
left-hander Tim Byrdak.
Houston third baseman Chris Johnson made a diving catch to rob
Lastings Milledge of a hit in the ninth.
NOTES: Rodriguez has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 11 of
17 starts. … Astros general manager Ed Wade said IF Geoff Blum
will undergo arthroscopic elbow surgery on Wednesday. Blum said he
felt his elbow pop while putting on his shirt following Thursday
night’s game in San Diego. … Pirates 1B Steve Pearce will get an
injection on Wednesday for the tendinitis in his left knee. Pearce
has been on the disabled list since late May. The Pirates say
Pearce will be inactive for 7-10 days after the injection, and is
not expected to play again until August. General manager Neal
Huntington said the injection was the best option to treat the
injury, but surgery remains a possibility.