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Houston at Pittsburgh

Scoreboard
Houston (81-72) «000200030560
Pittsburgh (64-90)000100000141

Astros 5, Pirates 1

CBSSports.com wire reports
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PITTSBURGH -- Houston Astros starter Randy Wolf made sure he didn't need much help from his team's struggling offense.

The left-hander allowed three hits in seven innings and Hunter Pence had two hits and three RBI to help the Astros snap a five-game losing streak with a 5-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.

"We definitely needed it," Houston manager Cecil Cooper said about Wolf's outing. "Randy gave us seven really good innings. He was pretty sharp, really focused. He settled in nicely and kept us in the ballgame. If we can get pitching like that, we'll be OK."

Wolf (11-12) gave up one run and struck out seven to win for the third time in four starts this month. He beat the Pirates for the second time in 10 days and won his sixth straight decision against Pittsburgh.

"To get that kind of pitching performance, it set the tone for us," Pence said.

Wolf's only mistake was a home run in the fourth inning from Pirates first baseman Adam LaRoche.

"Everybody knows we've been struggling a bit," Wolf said. "It's been tough for us. But when you go out there, you can't think about throwing a shutout. You just have to pitch your game. It worked out for us today."

Ty Wigginton and Geoff Blum also had RBI for Houston.

It was the first victory for the Astros since Sept. 11, when they beat the Pirates 6-0 to complete a four-game home sweep.

Since then, the Astros lost two "home" games to the Chicago Cubs in Milwaukee and were swept by the Marlins in Florida. During the losing streak, Houston was no-hit by Carlos Zambrano of the Cubs and managed just five runs and 16 hits combined during the five games.

"It's been a long week," Cooper said. "It's been a long time since we've had a win."

Houston got some help Friday night from Pittsburgh starter Ian Snell (6-12), who battled control problems.

Snell, who didn't allow a hit until one out in the fourth inning, gave up one earned run and three hits in six innings. But the right-hander walked five, including two in the fourth, when Houston scored twice on a single from Pence and a ground out from Wigginton.

"He was having trouble throwing the ball over the plate," Pittsburgh manager John Russell said. "It would have helped if he could have gone deeper in the game. He's in a rut where he's having trouble locating the ball over the plate."

Snell has walked 88 in 159 1/3 innings this year, after walking just 68 in 208 inning in 2007.

"I've struggled all year with my control," Snell said. "I can't pinpoint why. I didn't expect to walk five people. I managed to limit the damage."

Pittsburgh walked eight, one day after issuing 11 in a 4-3, 12-inning loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Pence added a two-run double and Blum had an RBI single during a three-run eighth against Pirates reliever Denny Bautista.

Adam LaRoche finished with two hits. The Pirates first baseman has five homers and 18 RBI in his past 11 games.

The left-hander had been 1-for-10 with four strikeouts in his career against Wolf before his home run.

"Adam's a good hitter," Wolf said. "I wanted to throw a strike. I didn't want to walk him. I threw a ball that was on the plate and down. He got his hands extended and gave it a good shot."

Pittsburgh, which has lost four of five games, reached 90 losses for the fourth straight season and sixth time since 2000.

"It's frustrating," said Russell, in his first season as manager. "I'm not going to talk about the years before because there's not much we can do about them. Wins and losses are what we have to start concentrating on."

Notes

Wolf's last loss to Pittsburgh came June 30, 2000, when he was with the Philadelphia Phillies. His winning streak against the Pirates is tied for the longest active streak in the major leagues with Derek Lowe of the Dodgers. ... The Astros are a National League-best 37-21 since the All-Star break. ... Houston 1B Lance Berkman, who went 0-for-1 with three walks, is in a career-worst 0-for-23 slump. ... Pittsburgh, which dropped to 38-41 at home, will finish with a losing home record for the seventh time in eight seasons at PNC Park. The only exception was 2006, when the Pirates went 43-38.

 
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

H. Pence
AB 2
R 0
H 2
HR 0
RBI 3
Pittsburgh

A. LaRoche
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 1
 
Houston Astros
Kazuo Matsui, 2B4110002 .284
    Darin Erstad, LF1000000 .278
Michael Bourn, CF4010002 .220
Miguel Tejada, SS4000022 .282
Lance Berkman, 1B1200300 .317
Geoff Blum, 3B3211101 .231
Hunter Pence, RF2023200 .271
Ty Wigginton, LF4001003 .285
    LaTroy Hawkins, P0000000 .000
    Tim Byrdak, P0000000 .167
    Jose Valverde, P0000000 .000
Humberto Quintero, C2000221 .214
Randy Wolf, P2010001 .143
    Edwin Maysonet, 2B1000010 .200
Totals2856585  
Batting
2B - Hunter Pence (33, D. Bautista)
SH - Randy Wolf (5)
RBI - Geoff Blum (51), Hunter Pence 3 (80), Ty Wigginton (56)
2-OUT RBI - Geoff Blum (20), Hunter Pence 2 (30)
CS - Michael Bourn (9, 2nd base by Snell/Doumit), Hunter Pence (10, 2nd base by D. Bautista/Doumit)
Team LOB - 5
Houston Astros
Randy Wolf (W,11-12) 7311171 4.46
LaTroy Hawkins 1000100 4.11
Tim Byrdak 0.2100000 4.08
Jose Valverde 0.1000000 3.42
Pitches-Strikes - Randy Wolf 111-72, LaTroy Hawkins 14-9, Tim Byrdak 8-4, Jose Valverde 3-1
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Randy Wolf 7-7, Tim Byrdak 1-1
Batters Faced - Randy Wolf 25, LaTroy Hawkins 4, Tim Byrdak 3, Jose Valverde 1
Pittsburgh Pirates
Nyjer Morgan, LF4000002 .275
Freddy Sanchez, 2B4000022 .264
Nate McLouth, CF4010010 .282
Ryan Doumit, C4000001 .318
Adam LaRoche, 1B4121010 .273
Steve Pearce, RF4010011 .226
Andy LaRoche, 3B3000011 .169
Luis Cruz, SS1000100 .256
   a- Doug Mientkiewicz, PH0000100 .282
    Brian Bixler, PR-SS0000000 .160
Ian Snell, P1000010 .130
    Denny Bautista, P0000000 .200
   b- Brandon Moss, PH1000001 .246
    Jesse Chavez, P0000000 .000
Totals3014127  
a-walked for L. Cruz in the 8th
b-lined out for D. Bautista in the 8th
Batting
HR - Adam LaRoche (23, Wolf)
SH - Ian Snell (7)
RBI - Adam LaRoche (81)
2-OUT RBI - Adam LaRoche (28)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
DP - LaRoche-F. Sanchez-LaRoche, Doumit-L. Cruz-LaRoche
E - Andy LaRoche (9, Throwing)
Pittsburgh Pirates
Ian Snell (L,6-12) 6321530 5.54
Denny Bautista 2333300 5.40
Jesse Chavez 1000020 4.50
Pitches-Strikes - Ian Snell 108-68, Denny Bautista 44-24, Jesse Chavez 15-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ian Snell 7-5, Jesse Chavez 1-0
Batters Faced - Ian Snell 23, Denny Bautista 11, Jesse Chavez 3
Game Information
Attendance - 26301
Game Time - 2:59
Temperature - 72
Umpires - Home - Rob Drake, First Base - Brian Gorman, Second Base - Scott Barry, Third Base - Bruce Dreckman