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Houston at Pittsburgh

Scoreboard
Houston (42-50) «4000002006100
Pittsburgh (42-48)012010000480

Astros 6, Pirates 4

CBSSports.com wire reports
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PITTSBURGH -- After building big leads in their previous three games only to lose each time, the Houston Astros didn't let it happen again.

Geoff Blum hit a three-run homer in the first inning and Houston avoided a three-game sweep by holding off the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-4 Wednesday.

Kazuo Matsui, Ty Wigginton and Michael Bourn each had two hits for the Astros, who blew a four-run lead before scoring twice in the seventh.

The Astros had early 3-0 leads Monday and Tuesday against Pittsburgh. They also lost in 17 innings Sunday at Atlanta after holding a 5-1 cushion at one point.

"I think that win was pretty necessary considering the way things have been going with the 17-inning game, the rain delays and 5-hour losses and things like that," Blum said. "It's good to get out of here with a win."

Last-place Houston, which had lost seven of eight, is one game behind the Pirates in the NL Central. Tuesday's loss included more than three hours of rain delays and didn't end until after 1 a.m.

"It's definitely a good feeling to finally get a win here," Astros manager Cecil Cooper said. "We played awfully hard these last three days."

Nate McLouth had three doubles and scored twice for Pittsburgh, which has dropped four of six.

The go-ahead run came without a ball leaving the infield. Bourn reached on a bunt single against Sean Burnett (0-1) and was sacrificed to second by Brad Ausmus. Pinch-hitter Mark Loretta chopped a ball just in front of home plate, and Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit threw to third too late to get the speedy Bourn.

Hunter Pence followed with an RBI groundout before Matsui hit a double to center that drove in Loretta to give the Astros a two-run lead.

"We did a good job of manufacturing something in that two runs in the seventh inning," Cooper said. "I think that's what you have to do. Good clubs do that."

Houston starter Brian Moehler (5-4) was the beneficiary of that rally. He earned the win after allowing four runs, seven hits and a walk in six innings. Jose Valverde pitched a scoreless ninth for his 23rd save.

"We were lucky to score some runs in the seventh inning and our bullpen came in and did a great job," Moehler said.

The Astros jumped out early against John Van Benschoten, who is 2-12 with an 8.96 ERA in his career and was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis after the game.

Van Benschoten retired his first two batters but allowed the next six to reach. He walked Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee before Blum drove the first pitch he saw to right for his sixth homer. Three singles later, it was 4-0. Van Benschoten struck out Moehler to complete a 35-pitch inning.

The former first-round pick didn't allow another run -- but he did yield eight more base runners in his remaining 3 2/3 innings. Van Benschoten's final line: four runs on seven hits and six walks with six strikeouts. He threw 117 pitches.

"He was OK," manager John Russell said. "Obviously, the first inning wasn't very good for him, but he put up zeros after that."

Van Benschoten hadn't been notified of his demotion to the minors when he met with reporters after the game.

"You shouldn't feel that added pressure," he said of his plight to keep his spot in the rotation, "but I definitely need to come with it a little better than that, obviously."

The Pirates made it 4-1 when Xavier Nady tripled leading off the second and scored on Adam LaRoche's groundout.

Pittsburgh added two more with two outs in the third on Doumit's RBI single and Jason Bay's run-scoring double.

The Pirates tied it at 4 in the fifth on Freddy Sanchez's sacrifice fly.

"We fought back and tied the game. I thought we were right there," Russell said. "We still had opportunities. We thought things were really going our way, and then we give up two runs and just like that, it took a little wind out of our sails."

Notes

The Pirates said a corresponding roster move for Van Benschoten wouldn't be announced until Thursday. ... The previous time a Pirates player had three doubles in a game was Nady in Chicago on Aug. 4, 2006. ... The Pirates haven't won three in a row since a season-high six-game streak May 6-12. ... Lee went 0-for-2 with three walks, ending his 11-game hitting streak.

 
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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Players of the Game
Houston

G. Blum
AB 5
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 3
Pittsburgh

N. McLouth
AB 4
R 2
H 3
HR 0
RBI 0
 
Houston Astros
Hunter Pence, RF6001015 .260
Kazuo Matsui, 2B6021011 .273
Lance Berkman, 1B2110211 .348
Carlos Lee, LF2100303 .293
    Miguel Tejada, SS0000000 .277
Geoff Blum, SS5113015 .219
    Jose Valverde, P0000000 .000
Ty Wigginton, 3B5120002 .277
Michael Bourn, CF5120030 .220
Brad Ausmus, C2011200 .221
Brian Moehler, P1000212 .000
   a- Mark Loretta, PH1100000 .260
    Chris Sampson, P0000000 .150
   b- Darin Erstad, PH-LF1010000 .301
Totals36610698  
a-hit into fielder's choice for Moehler in the 7th
b-doubled for Sampson in the 9th
Batting
2B - Kazuo Matsui 2 (15, Van Benschoten, Yates), Darin Erstad (12, Beam)
HR - Geoff Blum (6, Van Benschoten)
SH - Brad Ausmus (5)
RBI - Hunter Pence (43), Kazuo Matsui (19), Geoff Blum 3 (20), Brad Ausmus (14)
2-OUT RBI - Kazuo Matsui (9), Geoff Blum 3 (9), Brad Ausmus (5)
SB - Lance Berkman 2 (14, 2nd base off Van Benschoten/Doumit, 2nd base off Burnett/Doumit)
CS - Ty Wigginton (4, 2nd base by Van Benschoten/Doumit)
Team LOB - 14
Houston Astros
Brian Moehler (W,5-4) 6744130 4.28
Chris Sampson (H,4) 2000010 4.72
Jose Valverde (S,23) 1100000 3.89
Pitches-Strikes - Brian Moehler 91-62, Chris Sampson 23-16, Jose Valverde 19-13
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Brian Moehler 7-7, Chris Sampson 4-1, Jose Valverde 1-2
Batters Faced - Brian Moehler 25, Chris Sampson 6, Jose Valverde 4
Pittsburgh Pirates
Nate McLouth, CF4230000 .286
Freddy Sanchez, 2B3001012 .226
Ryan Doumit, C4111001 .318
Jason Bay, LF4011011 .291
Xavier Nady, RF4110001 .321
Adam LaRoche, 1B3011100 .251
Doug Mientkiewicz, 3B3000001 .268
    Tyler Yates, P0000000 .000
    T.J. Beam, P0000000 .000
   a- Jason Michaels, PH1000001 .229
John Van Benschoten, P2000010 .000
    Sean Burnett, P0000000 .000
    Jose Bautista, 3B2000001 .252
Jack Wilson, SS3010010 .299
Totals3348414  
a-flied out for Beam in the 9th
Batting
2B - Nate McLouth 3 (32, Moehler, Moehler, Moehler), Jason Bay (22, Moehler), Jack Wilson (7, Moehler)
3B - Xavier Nady (1, Moehler)
SF - Freddy Sanchez (5)
RBI - Freddy Sanchez (33), Ryan Doumit (28), Jason Bay (46), Adam LaRoche (42)
2-OUT RBI - Ryan Doumit (10), Jason Bay (16)
Team LOB - 4
Pittsburgh Pirates
John Van Benschoten 4.2744661 9.77
Sean Burnett (L,0-1) 1.2111200 4.88
Tyler Yates 1.2111120 3.74
T.J. Beam 1100000 6.55
IBB - Berkman by Tyler Yates
HBP - Berkman (by John Van Benschoten)
Pitches-Strikes - John Van Benschoten 117-62, Sean Burnett 24-14, Tyler Yates 32-17, T.J. Beam 13-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - John Van Benschoten 4-3, Sean Burnett 3-2, Tyler Yates 3-1, T.J. Beam 2-1
Batters Faced - John Van Benschoten 27, Sean Burnett 8, Tyler Yates 8, T.J. Beam 4
Game Information
Attendance - 13884
Game Time - 3:15
Temperature - 81
Umpires - Home - Kerwin Danley, First Base - Laz Diaz, Second Base - Wally Bell, Third Base - Paul Schrieber