Pittsburgh at Houston

W: J. Fulchino (1-1) L: S. Jackson (1-1)
S: L. Hawkins (8)
HR: PIT - None   HOU - None

Astros 6, Pirates 4

CBSSports.com wire reports

HOUSTON -- Russ Ortiz is unhappy with his role.

That's just fine with the Astros, as long as he keeps pitching the way he did Sunday in Houston's 6-4 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Felipe Paulino, who took Ortiz's spot in the rotation earlier this season, strained his right groin in the second inning and left the game. Ortiz came on in relief and tossed 4 1/3 scoreless innings. He gave up four hits and a walk, striking out three.

"Ortiz did a really good job," Houston manager Cecil Cooper said. "Russ has pitched much better than he did as a starter. He's more consistent in the strike zone.

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"He wasn't happy when we put him in the bullpen and he probably still isn't happy. But we've talked with him several times and he knows what role we need him to play."

Not that Ortiz is accepting that role. In nine relief appearances since the demotion, he has a 2.50 ERA. He ran his scoreless streak Sunday to 12 1/3 innings, the longest by an Astros pitcher this season.

Does Ortiz think he has pitched well enough to start again?

"That's a question for them," he said. "Of course I want to start. That's what I love to do.

"But I've been told my role is long relief. Those things are not up to me. All I can do is work hard and do my best," he added. "It's nice to have a good outing and make a case for myself. I hope I can just give Cooper more confidence in me every time I go out there."

Matt Kata scored from second base on Miguel Tejada's infield single, snapping a seventh-inning tie, and the Astros held on from there.

Pirates shortstop Ramon Vazquez went to the turf to field Tejada's grounder, fumbled the ball and tried to get it to second baseman Freddy Sanchez for an inning-ending force. But they couldn't connect and Kata never stopped running, putting Houston ahead 4-3.

"There were two outs, so why stop?" Tejada said. "Some guys might stop, but you have to try and make something happen in that situation."

The Pirates thought it was a good play by Kata.

"It was close," Vazquez said of the play at second. "I was falling down, but that was the best chance I thought we had of getting the out."

Steven Jackson (1-1) took the loss, allowing three runs, three hits and two walks in 1 1/3 innings.

"That was a really heads-up play by [Kata] and all you can really do is tip your cap to him," Jackson said.

Humberto Quintero, who went 3-for-4 with two RBI, had an RBI single and Jason Michaels added a run-scoring double in the eighth to make it 6-3.

Chris Sampson ran his shutout streak against the Pirates to 24 innings with a perfect eighth. LaTroy Hawkins allowed a run in the ninth before getting his eighth save in 10 tries.

Jeff Fulchino (1-1) pitched a scoreless inning for his first major league win.

Pittsburgh rookie Andrew McCutchen had three hits and an RBI. The Pirates are a half-game in front of last-place Houston in the NL Central.

Pirates starter Ian Snell pitched six innings and allowed three runs on eight hits and a walk. He struck out three.

"I thought he threw really well today," manager John Russell said. "He got ahead of hitters and made [the Astros] put the ball in play. His command was there and that really helps him set up his off-speed stuff."

Jason Jaramillo's RBI double gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead in the second. The Astros tied it in the bottom half on Jeff Keppinger's RBI single.

In the fifth, Quintero's double drove in Keppinger for a 2-1 Astros lead. Carlos Lee made it 3-1 with an RBI single in the sixth.

Tim Byrdak relieved Ortiz to start the seventh and loaded the bases without getting an out. Fulchino got McCutchen on an RBI groundout. Nyjer Morgan's RBI single tied it 3-all.

Morgan also had a sacrifice fly in the ninth.


Pirates SS Jack Wilson was out of the lineup with a sore shoulder. He is day to day. ... Astros relievers Geoff Geary and Jose Valverde each threw two simulated innings before the game. Valverde, on the disabled list with a right calf strain, planned to throw only one inning but felt so good, he went two. He is slated to pitch Tuesday and Wednesday in a minor league rehab assignment at Double-A Corpus Christi and likely will be activated for the Arizona series that starts Friday. Cooper said Geary (right biceps tendinitis) also might be ready by Friday. ... 2B Kaz Matsui (strained left hamstring) ran and took grounders again, and the Astros are considering sending him on a rehab assignment this week.

Copyright 2017 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

H. Quintero
AB 4
R 0
H 3
HR 0

A. McCutchen
AB 5
R 0
H 3
HR 0

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Pittsburgh Pirates
Andrew McCutchen, CF5031000 .333
Nyjer Morgan, LF4012013 .268
Freddy Sanchez, 2B4010102 .311
Adam LaRoche, 1B3000113 .246
Andy LaRoche, 3B4110002 .301
Brandon Moss, RF4010012 .263
Jason Jaramillo, C3111121 .277
Ramon Vazquez, SS4110031 .266
Ian Snell, P2010011 .182
   a- Delwyn Young, PH1010000 .317
    Steven Jackson, P0000000 .000
    Jesse Chavez, P0000000 .000
   b- Eric Hinske, PH1110000 .275
a-singled for Snell in the 7th
b-doubled for J. Chavez in the 9th
2B - Jason Jaramillo (10, Paulino), Eric Hinske (7, Hawkins)
SF - Nyjer Morgan (3)
RBI - Andrew McCutchen (4), Nyjer Morgan 2 (20), Jason Jaramillo (14)
Team LOB - 8
Outfield Assists - Brandon Moss 1
DP - LaRoche-F. Sanchez-LaRoche, Jaramillo-Vazquez, Vazquez-F. Sanchez-LaRoche
E - Ramon Vazquez (2, Misplayed grounder)
Pittsburgh Pirates
Ian Snell 6833130 5.54
Steven Jackson (L,1-1) 1.1333210 6.23
Jesse Chavez 0.2200010 2.92
Pitches-Strikes - Ian Snell 96-56, Steven Jackson 35-20, Jesse Chavez 15-12
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ian Snell 6-6, Steven Jackson 2-1
Batters Faced - Ian Snell 24, Steven Jackson 9, Jesse Chavez 4
Houston Astros
Michael Bourn, CF4020103 .298
Miguel Tejada, SS4011002 .354
Hunter Pence, RF3100122 .342
Carlos Lee, LF3011100 .321
    Darin Erstad, PR-LF0100000 .135
Lance Berkman, 1B4120020 .246
Geoff Blum, 3B4110003 .264
Jeff Keppinger, 2B4121012 .276
Humberto Quintero, C4032001 .325
Felipe Paulino, P0000000 .091
    Russ Ortiz, P2000001 .167
    Tim Byrdak, P0000000 .000
    Jeff Fulchino, P0000000 .000
   a- Matt Kata, PH1100001 .000
    Chris Sampson, P0000000 .000
   b- Jason Michaels, PH1011000 .182
    LaTroy Hawkins, P0000000 .000
a-hit into fielder's choice for Fulchino in the 7th
b-doubled for Sampson in the 8th
2B - Lance Berkman (10, Snell), Geoff Blum (6, Snell), Jeff Keppinger (8, Snell), Humberto Quintero (2, Snell), Jason Michaels (6, J. Chavez)
RBI - Miguel Tejada (33), Carlos Lee (38), Jeff Keppinger (7), Humberto Quintero 2 (8), Jason Michaels (3)
2-OUT RBI - Miguel Tejada (15), Jeff Keppinger (3), Humberto Quintero (3), Jason Michaels (1)
SB - Hunter Pence (6, 2nd base off Snell/Jaramillo)
CS - Carlos Lee (2, 2nd base by Snell/Jaramillo)
Team LOB - 7
DP - Tejada-Keppinger-Berkman, Blum-Keppinger, Berkman-Quintero
Houston Astros
Felipe Paulino 1.2311040 6.18
Russ Ortiz 4.1400130 3.96
Tim Byrdak0222100 3.86
Jeff Fulchino (BS,1; W,1-1) 1100100 3.13
Chris Sampson (H,8) 1000010 1.80
LaTroy Hawkins (S,8) 1211010 2.55
WP - Felipe Paulino (3)
Pitches-Strikes - Felipe Paulino 33-23, Russ Ortiz 64-43, Tim Byrdak 9-4, Jeff Fulchino 16-8, Chris Sampson 9-8, LaTroy Hawkins 16-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Russ Ortiz 4-4, Jeff Fulchino 2-0, Chris Sampson 1-1
Batters Faced - Felipe Paulino 8, Russ Ortiz 16, Tim Byrdak 3, Jeff Fulchino 4, Chris Sampson 3, LaTroy Hawkins 5
Game Information
Attendance - 25729
Game Time - 3:17
Temperature - 73
Umpires - Home - Larry Vanover, First Base - Dan Iassogna, Second Base - Sam Holbrook, Third Base - Charlie Reliford