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Houston at Pittsburgh

Scoreboard
Houston (13-21)000000310480
Pittsburgh (17-17) «10010003x581

Pirates 5, Astros 4

CBSSports.com wire reports
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PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Pirates have steadfastly insisted that merely reaching .500 wouldn't be cause for celebration.

Ryan Doumit gave them a chance to find out what it feels like this late in the season for the first time in a while.

Doumit hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning and Pittsburgh evened its record later than at any point since 2005, beating the Houston Astros 5-4 Sunday.

Doumit's drive to left off Fernando Abad (1-3) was his third homer of the season. The Pirates have won five of seven and are 17-17.

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"We know that this is a great thing for the city and we know that we are moving in the right direction," said Pirates third baseman Neil Walker, who grew up in suburban Pittsburgh. "I guess I understand it a little more than everybody else, because I was six years old in '92."

That was the last season in which the Pirates finished with a winning record. A North American major professional sports record 18 consecutive losing seasons have followed since.

The 2005 Pirates stood at 30-30 on June 11.

"We're on the road to where we want to go, and that would be one of the mile markers that you need to get by," first-year Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "And now we need to work on the shelf life and on pushing forward from here."

Pittsburgh built a 2-0 lead behind starter James McDonald's six shutout innings Sunday, only to have Houston erase a deficit and take the lead against its bullpen for the second time in the series.

Chris Johnson homered on Chris Resop's third pitch of the seventh, Bill Hall singled and Humberto Quintero followed with an RBI double. Quintero, a lumbering catcher, scored from second on a bunt single by pinch-hitter Angel Sanchez to put the Astros ahead. The Astros made it 4-2 on Brett Wallace's sacrifice fly off Daniel McCutchen (1-0) in the eighth.

Last-place Houston has lost four of five.

"We're playing well right now," Johnson said. "We've just got to figure out a way to make sure we get these wins in these close ballgames, because we're playing a lot of close ballgames."

McDonald had a shutout going but needed 96 pitches to get through his six innings and left with a 2-0 lead. Resop did not retire a batter and was charged with three runs in the seventh, two days after not retiring a batter and allowing two runs while working with a 2-1 lead in the eighth.

Joel Hanrahan closed, making him 10 for 10 in save opportunities.

Hunter Pence's first-inning single extended his hitting streak to 12 games, but McDonald retired the next 12 batters and struck out eight overall. McDonald, who allowed three hits, has allowed only two runs over his past three starts combined.

"I am feeling more comfortable," he said. "I had a good breaking ball today and the fastball was pretty good. I've got to keep working in doing the things that make me successful."

Twice over the first four innings, Pittsburgh loaded the bases with less than two outs but each time scored only one run.

Steve Pearce hit a sacrifice fly with one out in the first. Brandon Wood struck out with three on and nobody out in the fourth. Ronny Cedeno followed with an RBI single, but McDonald hit into a double play to end the inning.

Houston's J.A. Happ pitched effectively through six innings and was on the cusp of benefiting from a late-inning rally. Happ allowed 10 baserunners in six innings but gave up only two runs.

"Happ worked around a lot of baserunners, giving us a chance to win, and he did," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "He put us in position, and the guys did a great job coming back, putting us in a great position."

Until Doumit came to the plate in the eighth thinking home run all the way with two on and his team down two runs.

"Man, did he whack that thing," Hurdle said. "He caught that thing right on the barrel. What a big swing for us, especially the way things were kind of spinning the wrong way. He put a foot down and kind of changed the direction of the game."

And maybe -- maybe -- even the direction of the season -- and of a franchise that is so desperate to return to winning baseball.

"We know what we are capable of, and as far as we are all concerned, we haven't been hitting on all cylinders quite yet," Doumit said. "There's plenty more left in the tank. Back to .500 right now and we have a big series coming with the Dodgers. This one feels good."

Notes

Pirates 3B Pedro Alvarez did not start for the fourth consecutive game because of a strained right quad. ... Doumit's homer was his 50th as Pirates catcher, third on the franchise list. ... Johnson's fourth home run tied him with Pence for the team high.

 
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
Pittsburgh

R. Doumit
AB 3
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 3
Houston

H. Quintero
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 0
RBI 1
 
Houston Astros
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Michael Bourn, CF5000011 .258
Clint Barmes, SS3000121 .207
Hunter Pence, RF4010013 .297
Carlos Lee, LF4120001 .228
    Brian Bogusevic, LF0000000 .375
Brett Wallace, 1B3001003 .339
Chris Johnson, 3B4111020 .194
Bill Hall, 2B4120000 .221
Humberto Quintero, C4111011 .256
J.A. Happ, P1000110 .455
   a- Angel Sanchez, PH1011000 .278
    Jeff Fulchino, P0000000 .000
    Fernando Abad, P0000000 .000
    Wilton Lopez, P0000000 .000
   b- Joe Inglett, PH1000000 .200
Totals3448428  
a-hit a bunt single for Happ in the 7th
b-grounded out for Lopez in the 9th
Batting
2B - Carlos Lee (5, D. McCutchen), Humberto Quintero (5, Resop)
HR - Chris Johnson (4, Resop)
SF - Brett Wallace (1)
RBI - Brett Wallace (11), Chris Johnson (13), Humberto Quintero (7), Angel Sanchez (16)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - Hall-Barmes-Wallace
Houston Astros
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
J.A. Happ 6622430 5.75
Jeff Fulchino (H,4) 1000010 2.81
Fernando Abad (BS,2; L,1-3) 0.1233101 7.50
Wilton Lopez 0.2000000 5.14
Pitches-Strikes - J.A. Happ 98-55, Jeff Fulchino 10-7, Fernando Abad 14-7, Wilton Lopez 3-3
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - J.A. Happ 2-11, Jeff Fulchino 1-1, Fernando Abad 1-0, Wilton Lopez 1-1
Batters Faced - J.A. Happ 26, Jeff Fulchino 3, Fernando Abad 4, Wilton Lopez 2
Pittsburgh Pirates
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Andrew McCutchen, CF4110000 .228
Jose Tabata, LF2000211 .231
Matt Diaz, RF3020000 .242
    Chris Resop, P0000000 .000
    Joe Beimel, P0000000 .000
    Daniel McCutchen, P0000000 .000
   a- Garrett Jones, PH1000000 .259
    Lyle Overbay, 1B0000000 .228
Neil Walker, 2B3220112 .295
Steve Pearce, 1B2111102 .258
    Joel Hanrahan, P0000000 .000
Ryan Doumit, C3113102 .263
Brandon Wood, 3B4000023 .214
Ronny Cedeno, SS4011000 .211
James McDonald, P2000001 .083
    Xavier Paul, RF1000000 .290
Totals2958554  
a-grounded out for D. McCutchen in the 8th
Batting
HR - Ryan Doumit (3, Abad)
SF - Steve Pearce (1)
RBI - Steve Pearce (3), Ryan Doumit 3 (12), Ronny Cedeno (9)
CS - Jose Tabata (2, 2nd base by Happ/Quintero)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
E - Daniel McCutchen (1, Throwing)
Pittsburgh Pirates
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
James McDonald 6300280 5.65
Chris Resop (BS,2)0333001 4.41
Joe Beimel 1100000 3.12
Daniel McCutchen (W,1-0) 1110000 0.00
Joel Hanrahan (S,10) 1000000 1.50
Pitches-Strikes - James McDonald 96-61, Chris Resop 15-11, Joe Beimel 13-8, Daniel McCutchen 14-9, Joel Hanrahan 8-5
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - James McDonald 4-6, Joe Beimel 2-1, Daniel McCutchen 1-2, Joel Hanrahan 2-1
Batters Faced - James McDonald 23, Chris Resop 3, Joe Beimel 4, Daniel McCutchen 4, Joel Hanrahan 3
Game Information
Attendance - 17946
Game Time - 2:45
Temperature - 66
Umpires - Home - Lance Barrett, First Base - Tim Tschida, Second Base - Jeff Nelson, Third Base - Marty Foster