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Pettitte tosses Astros to sixth win in last seven games

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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PITTSBURGH -- Beating Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte on consecutive nights was a little too much to ask of the Pittsburgh Pirates' nearly all-rookie starting staff.

Pettitte made his shortest start in 2½ months, but still won his seventh in a row and increased Houston's NL wild-card lead with a 7-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night.

The Astros' sixth victory in seven games boosted their cushion to two games over the Phillies, 4-1 losers to the Braves, and three games over the Marlins, who lost 3-2 in 12 innings to the Mets.

Several Astros players began cheering and yelling in the clubhouse as the Mets beat the Marlins, causing Brad Ausmus to ask, laughing, "Did we just clinch?"

Not yet, but the Astros will if they keep giving one of the majors' best pitching staffs this kind of support. Brad Ausmus drove in four runs, matching his season high, and center fielder Eric Bruntlett made two excellent defensive plays.

Bruntlett threw out Jose Bautista at the plate with a strong throw to end the fourth, keeping the Astros on top 4-2. He also ranged far to his right to make a diving, backhanded grab of Jason Bay's shot into the left-center gap an inning later.

Pettitte wasn't as sharp as he was in holding Florida to one run in eight innings Thursday, but won his 14th in 16 decisions since June 20 -- the best record in the majors during that stretch. He gave up seven hits and two runs in 5 1/3 innings, the 18th consecutive start he has yielded three runs or fewer.

"It seemed like I was in trouble in every inning, but the guys picked me up and played great defense and scored some runs," Pettitte said.

Ausmus had three of his four RBI on consecutive doubles off Pirates left-hander Tom Gorzelanny (0-1), who made his major league debut. Gorzelanny, a 2003 second-round draft pick, pitched earlier this month in both the Triple-A and Double-A playoffs, but the majors proved a little more difficult.

Gorzelanny couldn't follow two other Pirates rookie left-handers who have enjoyed outstanding starts to their careers, Zach Duke (6-1) and Paul Maholm (2-0), or right-hander Ian Snell, who beat Clemens 7-0 Monday night.

"Not every guy we bring up can pitch like Duke and Maholm," interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "That's asking for a lot."

Pettitte (17-9) never finds it very difficult to beat the last-place Pirates, who, despite their 62-89 record, had won three in a row against Houston -- all by shutout.

"But we bounced back tonight and looked great," manager Phil Garner said.

Houston ended its 28-inning scoreless streak against Pittsburgh in the second on Adam Everett's routine pop fly that fell among three players in short left field for a single, and Ausmus' first double.

"We've had to battle back from those kind of nights a lot this year," Bruntlett said, referring to the Astros' major league-leading 17 shutout losses.

Everett also singled on a squeeze bunt to drive in a run in a three-run fourth, and Ausmus followed with a two-run double to make it 4-2. Everett went 3-for-4 after missing four games to be with his 8-month-old daughter, who needed surgery for an undisclosed medical problem Friday.

Morgan Ensberg, in his second game back in the lineup after not starting for two weeks because of a hand injury, added his 35th home run in the fifth. The solo shot helped chase Gorzelanny, who gave up seven hits and five runs in 4 1/3 innings.

Pettitte is 5-1 with a 1.70 ERA in six career starts against the Pirates and 3-1 with a 1.48 ERA in four PNC Park starts.

"It wasn't great and they battled me pretty hard," Pettitte said. "I was getting ahead of them for the most part but I just couldn't put guys away."

Brad Eldred, another rookie and one of eight right-handed batters in Pittsburgh's lineup, hit his 10th homer leading off the second. Craig Wilson had a run-scoring double in the third for the Pirates, who had won four in a row and five of six.

Chad Qualls followed Pettitte by allowing a run in 1 2/3 innings, Dan Wheeler pitched the eighth and Brad Lidge gave up a run in the ninth in a non-save situation.

Notes

  • Gorzelanny struck out two after leading all Pirates minor-league pitchers with 167 strikeouts in 129 2/3 innings.
  • Pettitte has a 1.70 ERA during his winning streak. It was his shortest start since he lasted five innings against San Diego on July 6.
  • The season series is tied at 7. Five of the Pirates' seven victories came in shutouts.
 
Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Andy Pettitte yields two runs in 5 1/3 innings, the 18th consecutive start he's given up three or less. (AP)
Andy Pettitte yields two runs in 5 1/3 innings, the 18th consecutive start he's given up three or less. (AP)

Players of the Game
Houston

A. Everett
AB 4
R 3
H 3
HR 0
RBI 1
Houston

B. Ausmus
AB 3
R 0
H 3
HR 0
RBI 4
 

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Houston Astros
Craig Biggio, 2B5000002 .261
    Dan Wheeler, P0000000 .000
    Mike Lamb, 1B0000000 .228
Eric Bruntlett, CF-2B4000100 .219
Morgan Ensberg, 3B4111121 .279
Lance Berkman, 1B5120012 .293
    Brad Lidge, P0000000 .000
Jason Lane, RF3220100 .260
Chris Burke, LF2000001 .242
Adam Everett, SS4331000 .254
Brad Ausmus, C3034100 .267
Andy Pettitte, P3000012 .085
    Chad Qualls, P0000000 .000
   a- Jeff Bagwell, PH1011000 .261
    Charles Gipson, CF0000000 .182
Totals347127448 
a-singled for Qualls in the 8th
Batting
2B - Brad Ausmus 2 (19, Gorzelanny, Gorzelanny)
HR - Morgan Ensberg (36, Gorzelanny)
SH - Chris Burke 2 (7)
RBI - Morgan Ensberg (97), Adam Everett (54), Brad Ausmus 4 (47), Jeff Bagwell (17)
2-OUT RBI - Brad Ausmus (15)
CS - Brad Ausmus (3, 2nd base by Fogg/Cota)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Eric Bruntlett 1
E - Adam Everett (11, Misplayed grounder)
Houston Astros
Andy Pettitte (W,17-9) 5.1722251 2.45
Chad Qualls (H,19) 1.2211100 3.39
Dan Wheeler 1100100 2.27
Brad Lidge 1111110 2.27
Pitches-Strikes - Andy Pettitte 100-62, Chad Qualls 32-20, Dan Wheeler 25-15, Brad Lidge 20-13
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Andy Pettitte 5-6, Chad Qualls 3-2, Dan Wheeler 1-2, Brad Lidge 2-0
Batters Faced - Andy Pettitte 25, Chad Qualls 8, Dan Wheeler 5, Brad Lidge 5
Pittsburgh Pirates
Freddy Sanchez, 2B5020005 .284
Jack Wilson, SS5100013 .260
Jason Bay, CF-LF2210300 .308
Craig Wilson, RF5032011 .256
Brad Eldred, 1B4111125 .253
Humberto Cota, C5021013 .238
Jose Bautista, 3B3010003 .231
   a- Tike Redman, PH-CF1000101 .254
Michael Restovich, LF2000001 .239
   b- Rob Mackowiak, PH-CF^3B2010000 .277
Tom Gorzelanny, P1000012 .000
    Josh Fogg, P0000000 .106
   c- Nate McLouth, PH1000002 .215
    Rick White, P0000000 .000
    Matt Capps, P0000000 .000
   d- Daryle Ward, PH1000002 .266
    Salomon Torres, P0000000 .500
Totals3741145628 
a-walked for J. Bautista in the 8th
b-grounded out for Restovich in the 6th
c-grounded out for Fogg in the 6th
d-flied out for Capps in the 8th
Batting
2B - Craig Wilson 2 (11, Pettitte, Lidge)
HR - Brad Eldred (10, Pettitte)
SH - Tom Gorzelanny (1)
RBI - Craig Wilson 2 (16), Brad Eldred (23), Humberto Cota (39)
Team LOB - 12
Fielding
DP - F. Sanchez-J. Wilson-Eldred, J. Bautista-F. Sanchez-Eldred
Pittsburgh Pirates
Tom Gorzelanny (L,0-1) 4.1755221 10.38
Josh Fogg 1.2100100 4.94
Rick White 1.1322100 3.68
Matt Capps 0.2100000 5.40
Salomon Torres 1000020 2.99
Pitches-Strikes - Tom Gorzelanny 82-46, Josh Fogg 22-13, Rick White 32-19, Matt Capps 6-4, Salomon Torres 13-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Tom Gorzelanny 7-4, Josh Fogg 2-1, Rick White 2-2, Matt Capps 1-0, Salomon Torres 1-0
Batters Faced - Tom Gorzelanny 22, Josh Fogg 5, Rick White 8, Matt Capps 2, Salomon Torres 3
Game Information
Attendance - 12927
Game Time - 3:16
Temperature - 71
Umpires - Home - Dale Scott, First Base - Tim Tschida, Second Base - Ron Kulpa, Third Base - Dan Iassogna