Pittsburgh at Houston

Pittsburgh (75-77) «0000410308180
Houston (50-103)000001000141

Pirates 8, Astros 1

CBSSports.com wire reports

HOUSTON -- If the Pittsburgh Pirates are going to salvage something positive out of this once-promising season they'll have to finish strong.

Manager Clint Hurdle thought A.J. Burnett's solid outing on Sunday illustrated that idea perfectly.

Burnett allowed one run in eight innings for his 16th win, and Josh Harrison tied a career high with four hits to jumpstart Pittsburgh's offense in an 8-1 win over Houston to avoid a sweep.

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The win snapped a five-game skid for the Pirates, who at 75-77 are in danger of posting their 20th straight losing season, which would extend their major North American professional sports record.

The Pirates were 16 games above .500 early last month, but have collapsed since then, including winning just three times in the past 16 games to make their chances of securing the second NL wild-card slim.

"I thought A.J. set another very good example for everybody today about finishing," he said. "Regardless of the environment ... or what's going on around you, his mindset today was to go out and put a foot down -- and he did that."

Burnett (16-8), who allowed four hits and struck out a season-high 11, won for the first time since Aug. 16 to become the first Pittsburgh pitcher to win more than 15 games since 1991. He had started six games with four losses between victories.

He wasn't too concerned about reaching the milestone win.

"I just want to put my team in a position to win and get us in a good position at the end of the year," he said.

Harrison provided the spark Hurdle was looking for in the lineup, and Jose Tabata drove in two runs as the Pirates had a season-high 18 hits. Their eight runs were six more than they scored in the first two games of the series combined.

"We're all in it together, whether you're up or whether you're down or whether you're sideways, we're all tied together," Hurdle said. "We need to remember that."

Scott Moore had a solo homer in the sixth, and had three of Houston's four hits to come a triple short of the cycle.

"Scotty Moore was our big star today," Houston interim manager Tony DeFrancesco said. "But overall, A.J. just shut us down pretty much the whole game."

Houston starter Jordan Lyles (4-12) pitched four scoreless innings before running into trouble in the fifth. Alex Presley and Harrison singled before Andrew McCutchen walked to load the bases and chase Lyles.

Lyles allowed six hits and three runs with four strikeouts to fall to 0-4 in five career starts against the Pirates.

Wesley Wright came on for Lyles and hit pinch-hitter Gaby Sanchez to send a run home and put Pittsburgh up 1-0.

Wright was lifted for Mickey Storey with one out, and Storey walked pinch-hitter Pedro Alvarez on four pitches to score another run.

Clint Barmes and Rod Barajas hit consecutive RBI singles to push Pittsburgh's lead to 4-0.

Harrison singled before scoring on a double by McCutchen made it 5-0 in the sixth inning.

Harrison wasn't sure what he thought about Hurdle calling him a spark, but prides himself on being ready whenever he gets a chance to start.

"I'm going in there and not trying to do too much," Harrison said. "I just want to compete in the box and play good defense."

Moore doubled in the first inning and Houston didn't get another hit until his single with two outs in the third inning. Jose Altuve walked and stole second base in the third, and was out at home on Moore's single.

Pittsburgh added three runs in the eighth on RBI singles by Alvarez, Tabata and Burnett.

Burnett's performance continued a streak of 26 straight starts where he pitched into the sixth inning or longer.


Zane Smith (16-10) and John Smiley (20-8) were the previous Pittsburgh pitchers to win more than 15 games in a season. ... Right-hander Bud Norris is scheduled to start for the Astros on Wednesday. But he could have his start pushed back, because he has flu-like symptoms and is still dealing with a blister on the index finger of his throwing hand. DeFrancesco hopes he feels better because he'd like him to make two more starts before the season ends. ... Houston opens a three-game series with St. Louis on Monday while the Pirates travel to play the Mets.

Copyright 2015 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

S. Moore
AB 4
R 1
H 3
HR 1

J. Harrison
AB 6
R 2
H 4
HR 0

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Pittsburgh Pirates
Alex Presley, LF6120006 .237
Josh Harrison, 2B6240011 .243
Andrew McCutchen, CF5121113 .336
    Chad Qualls, P0000000 .000
Garrett Jones, 1B2010001 .275
   a- Gaby Sanchez, PH-1B3221001 .230
Pedro Alvarez, 3B5111146 .244
Travis Snider, RF2000011 .248
   b- Jose Tabata, PH-RF3112114 .241
Clint Barmes, SS5021013 .228
Rod Barajas, C5021000 .203
A.J. Burnett, P4011016 .067
    Starling Marte, CF0000000 .253
a-hit by pitch for G. Jones in the 5th
b-walked for Snider in the 5th
2B - Andrew McCutchen (27, Storey), Gaby Sanchez (16, Del Rosario)
3B - Alex Presley (7, Fick)
SH - A.J. Burnett (5)
RBI - Andrew McCutchen (93), Gaby Sanchez (29), Pedro Alvarez (81), Jose Tabata 2 (15), Clint Barmes (44), Rod Barajas (29), A.J. Burnett (2)
2-OUT RBI - A.J. Burnett (1)
Team LOB - 16
Pittsburgh Pirates
A.J. Burnett (W,16-8) 84111111 3.53
Chad Qualls 1000010 5.47
HBP - Bogusevic (by A.J. Burnett)
Pitches-Strikes - A.J. Burnett 109-74, Chad Qualls 11-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - A.J. Burnett 7-5, Chad Qualls 2-0
Batters Faced - A.J. Burnett 29, Chad Qualls 3
Houston Astros
Jose Altuve, 2B1000100 .291
   a- Jimmy Paredes, PH-RF2000022 .197
Scott Moore, RF-2B4131003 .256
Brett Wallace, 1B4000041 .260
Fernando Martinez, LF4000011 .214
Matt Dominguez, 3B3000010 .279
    Rhiner Cruz, P0000000 .000
   b- Marwin Gonzalez, PH1000000 .230
Tyler Greene, SS3000000 .225
Chris Snyder, C3000030 .179
Brandon Barnes, CF2000010 .215
    Chuckie Fick, P0000000 .000
    Enerio Del Rosario, P0000000 .000
    Brandon Laird, 3B1010000 .316
Jordan Lyles, P1000000 .143
    Wesley Wright, P0000000 .000
    Mickey Storey, P0000000 .000
    Brian Bogusevic, CF1000000 .203
a-struck out for Altuve in the 6th
b-grounded out for Cruz in the 9th
2B - Scott Moore (10, Burnett)
HR - Scott Moore (9, Burnett)
RBI - Scott Moore (24)
2-OUT RBI - Scott Moore (10)
SB - Jose Altuve (33, 2nd base off Burnett/Barajas)
Team LOB - 4
E - Tyler Greene (11, Misplayed grounder)
Houston Astros
Jordan Lyles (L,4-12) 4633140 5.44
Wesley Wright 0.1011010 3.31
Mickey Storey 0.2411110 4.44
Chuckie Fick 2100120 4.57
Enerio Del Rosario 0.2533010 10.06
Rhiner Cruz 1.1200010 6.17
IBB - Alvarez by Chuckie Fick
HBP - G. Sanchez (by Wesley Wright)
Pitches-Strikes - Jordan Lyles 79-49, Wesley Wright 11-6, Mickey Storey 27-17, Chuckie Fick 31-20, Enerio Del Rosario 21-12, Rhiner Cruz 28-19
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jordan Lyles 5-5, Mickey Storey 1-0, Chuckie Fick 3-1, Rhiner Cruz 3-0
Batters Faced - Jordan Lyles 21, Wesley Wright 2, Mickey Storey 7, Chuckie Fick 8, Enerio Del Rosario 7, Rhiner Cruz 6
Game Information
Attendance - 15207
Game Time - 3:27
Temperature - 73
Umpires - Home - Tim Timmons, First Base - Marty Foster, Second Base - Eric Cooper, Third Base - Jeff Kellogg