Astos ride Moehler in win over Pirates
Brian Moehler was walking down the dugout steps after the eighth inning when he turned and told Astros manager Cecil Cooper to not even think about taking him out.
Cooper wavered, but gave in. After all, it's not often a pitcher lobbies to go after his first shutout in nearly 10 years.
Moehler didn't manage that, but pitched his first complete game in nearly nine years to help Houston end a seven-game losing streak by beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-1 on Friday night.
Edwin Maysonet, a rookie making only his third career start, homered while going 4 for 4 and driving in four runs to support Moehler.
"We all wanted him to finish it. He came in after the eighth and said, 'I'm going back' before I could even say anything to him," Cooper said. "He's pretty excited about it, and we're glad he got the complete game."
Moehler, who had a 27.00 ERA in his two most recent starts in PNC Park, was two outs away from his first shutout since Aug. 30, 1999, until the Pirates scored on Jason Jaramillo's run-scoring grounder. Moehler's last previous complete game, while with the Tigers, was a 4-1 victory against the Orioles on Aug. 8, 2000.
Nobody needed to remind him Moehler it had been so long since he finished what he started.
"Yeah, it's been a long time - I've been in the ninth a few times since then and couldn't close it out," Moehler said after his 11th complete game in 290 career appearances. "It was good to know I threw 123 pitches, that I was capable of doing that."
Cooper came to the mound in the ninth and nearly went to the bullpen, but Moehler talked him out of it.
"We were up 6-0, so there's no point in coming out right there," Moehler said. "Just stay in the game and see what happens."
Maysonet doubled for his first career extra-base hit and scored the game's first run in the second inning. Two innings later, the Astros' No. 8 batter hit Ross Ohlendorf's fastball into the left-field seats to make it 3-0.
"My first home run, I'm kind of excited about that," Maysonet said. "It felt good coming off the bat, but I didn't think it had a shot. I was just trying to put the ball in play and it carried a little bit."
Maysonet, 3 for 17 in the majors coming into the game, added a two-run double in a sixth inning in which four of the first five Houston batters reached, only to have two thrown out running the bases. He also singled in the eighth.
The Astros' base running was bad the entire game - they had four runners thrown out - but Maysonet and Moehler were nearly enough to beat the Pirates by themselves.
Maysonet was recalled a week ago and his only two previous hits in 10 at-bats came Tuesday against the Reds, when he went 2 for 4 in his first major league start.
"The home run really got to me," said Ohlendorf (5-5), who said the Pirates didn't have much of a scouting report on Maysonet. "He hit it real well. He got what he wanted."
Moehler (2-3), a 7-0 loser to the Pirates on April 13, had lasted longer than five innings only once in six starts, but didn't allow a runner to reach third until Freddy Sanchez doubled with two out in the eighth. He hasn't shut out the Pirates in nearly 11 years, or since a 3-0 decision on June 30, 1998.
"We had some pitches to hit, but we fouled them off or popped them up," Pirates manager John Russell said. "We've been in that situation a number of times, and we need to do something about it."
Moehler gave up seven hits, struck out four and walked two in following up a 6-3 loss to Texas on Saturday in which he allowed three home runs.
The Astros averaged only three runs during their losing streak before getting 15 hits off four Pirates pitchers.
Pirates closer Matt Capps was available to pitch for the first time since being struck on the right elbow by a line drive Monday night against the Cubs. ... Houston lost eight in a row last season, from June 11-19. ... Houston SS Miguel Tejada singled in the third, extending his hitting streak to 12 games. ... Pirates CF Nate McLouth went 0 for 4 and now has one hit in 25 at-bats.