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Astros win third straight against hapless Pirates; Taveras' hit streak at 30

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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PITTSBURGH -- Willy Taveras has quite a streak going. Now he'd like to see the defending NL champion Houston Astros get on one, too.

Taveras ran his hitting streak to 30 games during another excellent all-around game and Lance Berkman drove in four runs, helping the Astros rough up the Pittsburgh Pirates 13-1 Sunday for their third consecutive victory.

Berkman, in a 5-for-45 slump before getting six RBI in the final two games of the four-game series, hit a three-run homer in the fifth following a run-scoring single in the first. Taveras singled to start the game and extend the longest hitting streak in team history.

After the Pirates won the series opener Thursday, Berkman effectively beat them in three consecutive games to help get the Astros out of a slide in which they lost 10 of 13. Berkman homered to support Roger Clemens' 5-1 victory Friday, then had a two-run double to key a 7-4 victory Saturday.

Berkman also could have easily had another hit, but shortstop Freddy Sanchez was given an error for not handling a sharply hit grounder up the middle that scored Mike Lamb during a three-run third.

"Usually when he drives in a bunch of runs, we score a bunch of runs," manager Phil Garner said.

Taveras began each of the final three games of the series with hits during the second longest hitting streak in the NL this season to Chase Utley's 35-game run for the Phillies.

"It kind of blows me away a little bit, but nothing is easy," Taveras said. "The way the team is winning some ballgames, I'm real happy about that."

Taveras reached base on hits or walks 10 times in the series and stole four bases. He is 45-of-129 (.349) during his hitting streak, getting hits in his first at-bat 14 times.

"The pressure's off then, so I hope I can get it every time in the first at-bat," he said. "I'm not thinking that much about it, it's hard to give a hit in every game that you play. But now I'm into it, I want to get a hit."

The Pirates assured themselves of a 14th consecutive non-winning season with their 81st loss, looking exactly like the last-place team they are with one of their worst-played games of the year. They had two errors, repeatedly made poor pitches in key situations and let Taveras and Berkman generate runs nearly every time they batted.

"Obviously, it wasn't a great day," manager Jim Tracy said. "We didn't pitch well early in the game ... and then the game got out of hand and completely got away. But this is an aberration, with what we've been up to in the second half of the season."

Not compared to the Pirates' history since the early 1990s, it isn't. With one more loss, they will be two losing seasons away from tying the Phillies' major-league record of 16 in a row from 1933-48.

If only the Astros could play the Pirates more often. They are 10-3 against them and have managed their only two modest winning streaks this month -- one of four games, the other of three -- mostly against the Pirates. That four-game run Aug. 8-11 included a three-game sweep of Pittsburgh in Houston.

"We have to carry this home and keep it going," Garner said as the Astros finished up a 6-5 road trip. "We've got a little something going for us right now."

The Pirates decided to intentionally walk Berkman during a four-run seventh but the damage was long since done, and Aubrey Huff followed with an RBI single and Adam Everett had a two-run double against reliever Britt Reames. Pirates starter Shawn Chacon (1-2) was long gone by then after giving up seven runs, five earned, in 4 1/3 innings.

Jason Hirsh (2-2), a rookie right-hander making his fourth career start, bounced back from a 14-0 loss Tuesday to Cincinnati to pitch seven innings. He gave up one run and five hits in his second appearance in PNC Park in six weeks -- he also started the All-Star Futures Game on July 9.

Notes

  • Lamb had two hits, scored three runs and drove in another. Chris Burke also scored three times.
  • The Pirates fell below .500 since the All-Star break at 20-21. They have losses of 14-1 and 13-1 to Houston this month.
  • Pirates SS Jack Wilson missed a third consecutive start because of a viral infection.
  • The game was long since decided, but CF Taveras made an exceptional diving, face-in-the-turf catch of Chris Duffy's fly ball into the left-center gap in the seventh.
  • The start was delayed 62 minutes by light rain.
 
Copyright 2014 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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Houston's Willy Taveras, caught in a rundown by Joe Randa,  extends his hit streak to 30 games.   (AP)
Houston's Willy Taveras, caught in a rundown by Joe Randa, extends his hit streak to 30 games. (AP)

Players of the Game
Houston

L. Berkman
AB 3
R 2
H 2
HR 1
RBI 4
Houston

J. Hirsh
IP 7.0
H 5
ER 1
BB 2
K 2
 
Houston Astros
Willy Taveras, CF4220100 .284
    Chris Sampson, P0000000 .000
   a- Morgan Ensberg, PH1010000 .232
    Trever Miller, P0000000 .000
Mike Lamb, 3B-1B5331101 .309
Chris Burke, 2B5310114 .289
Lance Berkman, 1B3224100 .308
    Orlando Palmeiro, RF1000000 .228
Aubrey Huff, RF-3B4122001 .275
Luke Scott, LF2001201 .387
Adam Everett, SS5222013 .242
Brad Ausmus, C3011101 .228
    Jason Lane, CF0001000 .211
Jason Hirsh, P4000034 .000
    J.R. House, C1000010 .000
Totals381314127615 
a-singled for Sampson in the 9th
Batting
2B - Willy Taveras (16, Reames), Mike Lamb (19, Chacon), Adam Everett (25, Reames)
3B - Adam Everett (6, Grabow)
HR - Lance Berkman (36, Chacon)
SF - Aubrey Huff (5), Luke Scott (1), Jason Lane (2)
RBI - Mike Lamb (39), Lance Berkman 4 (110), Aubrey Huff 2 (53), Luke Scott (15), Adam Everett 2 (49), Brad Ausmus (31), Jason Lane (37)
2-OUT RBI - Lance Berkman (30), Adam Everett 2 (25), Brad Ausmus (5)
SB - Willy Taveras (28, 2nd base off Chacon/Doumit)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
DP - Everett-Burke-Lamb
Houston Astros
Jason Hirsh (W,2-2) 7511220 8.53
Chris Sampson 1100000 3.31
Trever Miller 1100000 3.63
HBP - J. Bautista (by Jason Hirsh), Doumit (by Trever Miller)
Pitches-Strikes - Jason Hirsh 94-65, Chris Sampson 5-4, Trever Miller 22-14
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jason Hirsh 7-12, Chris Sampson 2-0, Trever Miller 1-2
Batters Faced - Jason Hirsh 29, Chris Sampson 3, Trever Miller 5
Pittsburgh Pirates
Chris Duffy, CF5000003 .202
Jose Bautista, 3B-2B3110010 .255
Freddy Sanchez, SS4020001 .346
Jason Bay, LF4000005 .290
Jeromy Burnitz, RF3000103 .230
Xavier Nady, 1B4031000 .284
Ryan Doumit, C2000101 .190
Jose Castillo, 2B2000003 .270
    Britt Reames, P0000000 .000
   a- Humberto Cota, PH1000010 .181
    John Grabow, P0000000 .000
   b- Rajai Davis, PH1000002 .000
Shawn Chacon, P1000000 .000
    Joe Randa, 3B3010002 .265
Totals331712220 
a-struck out for Reames in the 6th
b-flied out for Grabow in the 9th
Batting
2B - Jose Bautista (17, Hirsh), Joe Randa (13, Hirsh)
RBI - Xavier Nady (52)
2-OUT RBI - Xavier Nady (17)
Team LOB - 9
Fielding
DP - F. Sanchez-Castillo-Nady
E - Shawn Chacon (1, ), Freddy Sanchez (8, )
Pittsburgh Pirates
Shawn Chacon (L,6-5) 4.1675431 7.18
Britt Reames 1.2555310 9.82
John Grabow 3311020 3.90
IBB - Berkman by Britt Reames
Pitches-Strikes - Shawn Chacon 78-47, Britt Reames 50-25, John Grabow 37-27
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Shawn Chacon 5-5, Britt Reames 1-3, John Grabow 4-3
Batters Faced - Shawn Chacon 23, Britt Reames 13, John Grabow 12
Game Information
Attendance - 19459
Game Time - 2:46
Temperature - 78
Umpires - Home - Larry Poncino, First Base - Ed Hickox, Second Base - Gary Darling, Third Base - Bruce Dreckman