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Pittsburgh at Houston

Scoreboard
Pittsburgh (45-54) «0010100079181
Houston (46-53)0011100003100

Pirates 9, Astros 3

CBSSports.com wire reports
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HOUSTON -- Freddy Sanchez was tagged out going for an inside-the-park home run last season. He refused to let that happen again.

Sanchez hit a three-run, inside-the-park homer to cap a seven-run ninth inning, and the Pittsburgh Pirates snapped a five-game skid with a 9-3 win over the Houston Astros on Monday night.

Jason Bay and Adam LaRoche also homered in the inning off Houston closer Jose Valverde, who came in with the Astros leading 3-2.

Sanchez's shot off Tim Byrdak was Pittsburgh's first inside-the-park home run since Chris Duffy hit one against the New York Yankees on June 8, 2007. It was the second inside-the-park homer against Houston at home this season -- Chicago Cubs' catcher Geovany Soto had one on May 19.

"I was just running as hard as I could," said Sanchez, who went 3-for-6. "I gave it all I had. I got fortunate, I guess."

As he rounded third, Sanchez had a flashback to a game against the Cubs last season, when he was out at the plate on an inside-the-park try.

"That was kind of going through my head," he said.

Sanchez came into the game hitting .230 and was only 9-for-44 in July. He's hoping a game like this will kick-start his season.

"I can't look at what I did the first half," he said. "I can only look at this half and that's it. I'm just thinking at-bat to at-bat, not even day by day and doing whatever I can to help these guys."

Valverde (4-3) had converted 23 of his last 25 save opportunities before Bay hit the tying solo homer off the facade in left-center, his 20th of the season.

Xavier Nady singled before LaRoche homered into the porch in left field. Jason Michaels walked and Jack Wilson added an RBI single later in the inning before Houston manager Cecil Cooper brought in Byrdak to relieve Valverde.

"He was giving a little too much of the plate," Cooper said of his closer. "Sometimes, that happens. He just did not have real good control."

One out later, Sanchez drove a 1-0 pitch to right-center and the ball took a sideways bounce off the padding at the bottom of the fence, skipping away from right fielder Hunter Pence.

Once Pence got the ball back to the infield, Sanchez was already heading for home he slid ahead of the late relay throw to Houston catcher Brad Ausmus.

Sanchez let out a deep breath when he realized he'd made it.

"When I was sliding headfirst and I saw the ball go past," he said, "I just stayed there for a little bit."

Tyler Yates (4-2) pitched a scoreless eighth for Pittsburgh and Denny Bautista shut out the Astros in the ninth.

After getting outscored 28-9 in a four-game sweep by Colorado, the Pirates were relieved to rediscover their offense in Houston.

"It was looking at one point like the same old story from the last four days," Bay said. "Hopefully, we're over that and can get back on the right side of the ship."

Carlos Lee drove in two runs and Ausmus added an RBI double for the Astros, who stranded 13 runners and fell to 2-5 against Pittsburgh this season.

"We had a lot of opportunities," said Ty Wigginton, who went 0-for-2 with a walk. "I had a couple of situations myself. I should've moved the runner over and I just didn't get it done."

Lee broke a 2-all tie in the fifth with an RBI double off the left-field scoreboard. Cooper replaced starter Runelvys Hernandez with Geoff Geary in the sixth inning. Hernandez allowed eight hits and struck out three.

Geary pitched 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief and hasn't allowed a run this month, a span of 13 2/3 innings.

Doug Brocail, who gave up three runs while getting just two outs in a 4-3 loss at Pittsburgh on July 8, gave up two singles in the eighth.

The Astros scored their runs off Pittsburgh starter John Van Benschoten, who was recalled from the minors on Monday. Sean Burnett relieved Van Benschoten for the sixth. Home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth was hit by a pitch on his left forearm. Astros assistant athletic trainer Rex Jones ran out to check on him, but Culbreth stayed in the game.

Notes

The Astros fell to 6-35 when they score fewer than four runs. ... Bay has 137 homers for the Pirates, one behind Bill Mazeroski for eighth on the team's all-time list. ... Bay has 10 RBI in his last seven games. ... Sanchez has three homers in his last 11 games at Minute Maid Park.
 
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

C. Lee
AB 4
R 0
H 2
HR 0
RBI 2
Pittsburgh

F. Sanchez
AB 6
R 2
H 3
HR 1
RBI 4
 
Pittsburgh Pirates
Nate McLouth, CF6130014 .280
Freddy Sanchez, 2B6234003 .234
Ryan Doumit, C6000021 .321
Jason Bay, LF5142001 .287
Xavier Nady, RF5130022 .327
Adam LaRoche, 1B4122114 .258
Jose Bautista, 3B5120003 .253
John Van Benschoten, P1000110 .000
   a- Doug Mientkiewicz, PH0000100 .256
    Sean Burnett, P0000000 .333
    John Grabow, P0000000 .000
   b- Chris Gomez, PH1000011 .303
    Tyler Yates, P0000000 .000
   c- Jason Michaels, PH0100100 .229
    Denny Bautista, P0000000 .200
Jack Wilson, SS5111016 .280
Totals44918949  
a-walked for Van Benschoten in the 6th
b-struck out for Grabow in the 8th
c-walked for Yates in the 9th
Batting
2B - Nate McLouth (34, Ru. Hernandez)
HR - Freddy Sanchez (6, Byrdak), Jason Bay (20, Valverde), Adam LaRoche (12, Valverde)
RBI - Freddy Sanchez 4 (39), Jason Bay 2 (56), Adam LaRoche 2 (48), Jack Wilson (13)
2-OUT RBI - Freddy Sanchez 3 (20), Jason Bay (23)
Team LOB - 12
Fielding
DP - J. Bautista-F. Sanchez-LaRoche
E - Jose Bautista (11, Misplayed grounder)
Pittsburgh Pirates
John Van Benschoten 5632440 8.27
Sean Burnett 0.1100200 4.50
John Grabow 1.2200020 3.17
Tyler Yates (W,4-2) 1000010 3.99
Denny Bautista 1100020 3.55
WP - Denny Bautista (2)
Pitches-Strikes - John Van Benschoten 92-50, Sean Burnett 19-7, John Grabow 35-27, Tyler Yates 12-9, Denny Bautista 18-15
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - John Van Benschoten 10-1, John Grabow 2-1, Tyler Yates 1-1
Batters Faced - John Van Benschoten 25, Sean Burnett 4, John Grabow 7, Tyler Yates 3, Denny Bautista 4
Houston Astros
Kazuo Matsui, 2B5130001 .283
Michael Bourn, CF3110201 .219
Lance Berkman, 1B3000224 .339
Carlos Lee, LF4022004 .306
    Darin Erstad, LF1010000 .277
Miguel Tejada, SS5000015 .278
Hunter Pence, RF5110021 .265
Ty Wigginton, 3B2000123 .270
    Geoff Geary, P0000000 .000
   a- David Newhan, PH1000011 .269
    Doug Brocail, P0000000 .000
    Jose Valverde, P0000000 .000
    Tim Byrdak, P0000000 .200
   b- Geoff Blum, PH1000001 .212
Brad Ausmus, C3021101 .227
Runelvys Hernandez, P2000011 .250
    Mark Loretta, 3B2000003 .256
Totals37310369  
a-struck out for Geary in the 7th
b-flied out for Byrdak in the 9th
Batting
2B - Kazuo Matsui (18, Van Benschoten), Brad Ausmus (7, Van Benschoten)
RBI - Carlos Lee 2 (80), Brad Ausmus (15)
2-OUT RBI - Carlos Lee (42)
SB - Kazuo Matsui (16, 2nd base off Van Benschoten/Doumit), Hunter Pence (6, 2nd base off Van Benschoten/Doumit)
Team LOB - 13
Fielding
DP - Tejada-Matsui-Berkman
Houston Astros
Runelvys Hernandez 5.1822230 8.38
Geoff Geary (H,6) 1.2200120 2.14
Doug Brocail (H,19) 1200020 3.69
Jose Valverde (BS,6; L,4-3) 0.1566102 4.86
Tim Byrdak 0.2111021 2.23
Pitches-Strikes - Runelvys Hernandez 87-56, Geoff Geary 29-18, Doug Brocail 18-11, Jose Valverde 28-18, Tim Byrdak 12-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Runelvys Hernandez 7-5, Doug Brocail 1-0
Batters Faced - Runelvys Hernandez 25, Geoff Geary 8, Doug Brocail 5, Jose Valverde 7, Tim Byrdak 3
Game Information
Attendance - 34624
Game Time - 3:42
Temperature - 73
Umpires - Home - Field Culbreth, First Base - Jim Reynolds, Second Base - Chris Tiller, Third Base - Tim Timmons