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Pittsburgh at Houston

Scoreboard
Pittsburgh (60-84)200000100341
Houston (78-67) «30212100x9151

Astros 9, Pirates 3

SportsLine.com wire reports
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HOUSTON -- The Houston Astros took care of the Pittsburgh Pirates, then hurried back to the clubhouse to see what their rivals were doing.

Lance Berkman hit a three-run homer and Randy Wolf shut down Pittsburgh after a shaky first inning as the Astros continued their second-half surge with a 9-3 victory Tuesday night.

Berkman had an RBI double and scored three runs for the Astros, who have won four straight and 12 of 13. Houston's 34-16 record is the best in the majors since the All-Star break and the Astros are emerging as a factor in the NL wild-card race.

Houston came into Tuesday's game trailing Milwaukee by five games, Philadelphia by two and St. Louis by a half-game.

After the victory, the big-screen television in the Houston clubhouse was tuned to the Cubs-Cardinals game, in time to see St. Louis win in the ninth inning. Someone quickly changed the channel to the Reds-Brewers game that was in extra innings.

"We're going to try to win as many games as we can," Berkman said, "and we're certainly going to pay attention to what the teams in front of us are doing."

The Astros have made a habit of finishing strong. In 2004, they went 48-26 in the second half to make the playoffs. In 2005, they went 45-30 after the break and reached their first World Series.

Berkman acknowledged that Houston needs a "miracle" to make the postseason this year, but no one in the clubhouse is giving up hope.

"The main issue is trying to win each game and if for some reason, there is a spot for us, that'd be great," Wolf said. "But it's just fun winning, just keep going out there and playing good baseball."

Wolf (10-11) allowed four hits and struck out four in seven innings to improve to 4-1 in nine starts since the Astros acquired him from San Diego on July 22. The Astros have won eight of the nine games Wolf has started for them.

Hunter Pence hit a ball that bounced off the top of the wall in right field for an RBI double in the sixth that prompted the second use ever of instant replay. Umpires looked at the replay and ruled that it was not a home run, upholding the original call.

Baseball started allowing umpires to use instant replay to determine boundary calls on Aug. 28. Last Wednesday, a home run by Alex Rodriguez was reviewed and upheld in the New York Yankees' 8-4 win over Tampa Bay.

The rest of Tuesday's game in Houston was clear cut.

Houston led 6-2 after four innings against Ross Ohlendorf (0-1), who was making his second career start. The Pirates have lost four straight and 15 of 18.

The Pirates scored two runs in the first, after Wolf walked leadoff man Nate McLouth. Freddy Sanchez grounded out before Ryan Doumit lined an RBI single to left. Adam LaRoche then doubled down the right-field line, scoring Doumit.

Darin Erstad and Miguel Tejada singled in the bottom of the first before Berkman drove a 2-1 pitch into the left-field porch for his 28th homer.

Erstad and Tejada both singled again in the third and this time, Berkman doubled to score Erstad and make it 4-2. The Astros loaded the bases and tacked on another run later in the inning.

"I didn't feel like I consistently made pitches I needed to," Ohlendorf said. "I got into bad counts and put the ball over the middle of the plate. I need to locate my pitches better."

Michael Bourn singled with two outs in the Houston fourth, stole second and went to third on Ohlendorf's balk. Erstad drove in Bourn with a double to left center.

"Offensively, we did a nice job and Wolf gave us another quality start," Berkman said. "The bottom line, we swung the bats well tonight."

Wolf retired 13 consecutive batters after LaRoche's double. Pinch-hitter Robinzon Diaz broke Wolf's streak with a two-out single in the fifth, but McLouth popped out.

"The start was a little rocky, but I kind of settled down as the game went on," Wolf said.

Berkman led off the Astros' fifth with a single off reliever Jason Davis and scored again on Geoff Blum's triple to the right-field corner. David Newhan added an RBI single in the inning to make it 8-2.

Steve Pearce hit his first career homer for the Pirates in the seventh, Pittsburgh's first home run in 43 innings.

Notes

Sanchez left in the second inning with blurred vision in his right eye and was replaced by Luis Rivas. ... Berkman has scored 891 runs in his career, moving past Cesar Cedeno and into third place in franchise history. Berkman has 109 runs this season, one shy of a career high. ... Houston manager Cecil Cooper said LHP Wandy Rodriguez will miss his next scheduled start after straining his right oblique muscle Sunday against Colorado.

 
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

L. Berkman
AB 4
R 3
H 3
HR 1
RBI 4
Pittsburgh

S. Pearce
AB 3
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 1
 
Pittsburgh Pirates
Nate McLouth, CF2100101 .277
    Nyjer Morgan, CF1000000 .236
Freddy Sanchez, 2B1000000 .263
    Luis Rivas, 2B3000010 .220
Ryan Doumit, C3111000 .325
    Ronny Paulino, C1000000 .214
Adam LaRoche, 1B4011000 .267
Jason Michaels, LF4000011 .226
Steve Pearce, RF3111001 .246
Andy LaRoche, 3B3000000 .173
Brian Bixler, SS3000020 .156
Ross Ohlendorf, P1000000 .000
   a- Robinzon Diaz, PH1010000 .300
    Jason Davis, P0000000 .000
    Jesse Chavez, P0000000 .000
    Craig Hansen, P0000000 .000
   b- Chris Gomez, PH1000000 .286
    Matt Capps, P0000000 .000
Totals3134314  
a-singled for Ohlendorf in the 5th
b-flied out for Hansen in the 8th
Batting
2B - Adam LaRoche (27, Wolf)
HR - Steve Pearce (1, Wolf)
RBI - Ryan Doumit (55), Adam LaRoche (65), Steve Pearce (11)
Team LOB - 2
Fielding
E - Ronny Paulino (2, Interference)
Pittsburgh Pirates
Ross Ohlendorf (L,1-2) 4966131 6.84
Jason Davis 1322000 5.90
Jesse Chavez 1311020 8.44
Craig Hansen 1000000 6.49
Matt Capps 1000020 3.30
HBP - Quintero (by Jason Davis)
WP - Ross Ohlendorf (7)
Pitches-Strikes - Ross Ohlendorf 72-45, Jason Davis 21-12, Jesse Chavez 23-17, Craig Hansen 6-5, Matt Capps 13-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ross Ohlendorf 5-3, Jason Davis 3-0, Jesse Chavez 1-0, Craig Hansen 2-1, Matt Capps 1-0
Batters Faced - Ross Ohlendorf 21, Jason Davis 7, Jesse Chavez 6, Craig Hansen 3, Matt Capps 4
Houston Astros
Michael Bourn, CF5110003 .222
Darin Erstad, LF5231000 .292
Miguel Tejada, SS4230001 .285
    Geoff Geary, P0000000 .000
   a- Mark Saccomanno, PH-1B00000001.000
Lance Berkman, 1B4334011 .331
   b- Reggie Abercrombie, PH1000011 .256
    Tim Byrdak, P0000000 .167
Geoff Blum, 3B4121111 .236
Hunter Pence, RF4011014 .273
David Newhan, 2B4012012 .258
Humberto Quintero, C3010002 .236
Randy Wolf, P3000021 .130
   c- Edwin Maysonet, PH-SS1000000 .000
Totals38915917  
a-awarded first on catcher's interference for Geary in the 8th
b-struck out for Berkman in the 8th
c-popped out for Wolf in the 7th
Batting
2B - Darin Erstad (16, Ohlendorf), Lance Berkman (45, Ohlendorf), Hunter Pence (32, J. Chavez)
3B - Geoff Blum (1, Davis)
HR - Lance Berkman (28, Ohlendorf)
RBI - Darin Erstad (28), Lance Berkman 4 (100), Geoff Blum (50), Hunter Pence (73), David Newhan 2 (11)
2-OUT RBI - Darin Erstad (11), Hunter Pence (26)
SB - Michael Bourn (38, 2nd base off Ohlendorf/Doumit)
CS - Geoff Blum (2, Home by Ohlendorf/Doumit)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
E - Humberto Quintero (1, Throwing)
Houston Astros
Randy Wolf (W,10-11) 7433141 4.45
Geoff Geary 1000000 2.44
Tim Byrdak 1000000 4.26
Pitches-Strikes - Randy Wolf 105-73, Geoff Geary 10-8, Tim Byrdak 8-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Randy Wolf 8-9, Tim Byrdak 2-1
Batters Faced - Randy Wolf 26, Geoff Geary 3, Tim Byrdak 3
Game Information
Attendance - 30034
Game Time - 2:39
Temperature - 73
Umpires - Home - Bill Welke, First Base - D.J. Reyburn, Second Base - Chris Guccione, Third Base - Tim Welke