Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) – Neil Walker collected three hits, scored three times and knocked in a pair of runs as Pittsburgh pounded out 17 hits in a 12-6 win over Houston in the middle meeting of a three-game set.
Jose Tabata and Lastings Milledge each had two hits and knocked in a pair of runs, while Garrett Jones, Pedro Alvarez, Erik Kratz and Ronny Cedeno also had a pair of hits apiece to help the Pirates snap a seven-game losing streak.
Javier Lopez (2-1) earned the win by recording the final out in the fifth inning. Brendan Donnelly, Evan Meek, Joel Hanrahan and Octavio Dotel then combined to retire the final 12 Houston hitters in succession to sew up Pittsburgh’s first win over Houston in eight tries this season.
Bud Norris (2-7) took the loss after being charged with seven runs — four earned — on nine hits while walking two and striking out four over 4 2/3 innings for Houston, which has dropped three out of five.
The Pirates, who had been scored on in the first inning in six of their last seven games, turned the tables on Houston in the first to take the early lead.
Tabata reached on a Chris Johnson throwing error with one out, moved to third base on a Walker single and scored on Jones’ double to right field. Alvarez struck out before Milledge lashed a two-run single to center to cap off the three-run rally.
The lead didn’t last long, as Hunter Pence led off the second inning by belting Ross Ohlendorf’s second pitch of the second inning over the wall in left-center field for his 13th home run of the year.
Johnson was then hit by a pitch, moved to second on a Jason Castro single and came in to score on a double by Angel Sanchez. Norris legged out a bunt base hit to load the bases for Michael Bourn, who doubled to left to plate two runs to give the visitors their first lead at 4-3. Lance Berkman walked to reload the bases with one out and spell the end of the night for Ohlendorf.
D.J. Carrasco took over and got Carlos Lee to ground into an inning-ending double play. Ohlendorf was charged with four runs on five hits and a pair of walks, while striking out one, in the shortest start of his career.
The Buccos responded in their half of the frame with a two-run double by Tabata to center that put them back in the lead by one.
Carrasco retired the first eight batters he faced before Berkman walked with one out in the fifth and advanced to second base on a two-out single by Pence that chased the right-hander from the hill.
Lopez was called on by skipper John Russell but the move backfired when Johnson doubled into the alley in left-center to drive in both runners and put the Astros back in front, 6-5. Castro then lined out to end the inning.
The see-saw affair tilted back in favor of the Pirates for good in the bottom of the inning, as Cedeno singled in the tying run with two outs and knocked Norris out of the game. Chris Sampson took over and gave up a pinch-hit single to Ryan Church that plated Erik Kratz to move the home team back on top, 7-6.
Gustavo Chacin assumed the hill for the Astros in the home sixth and gave up a one-out double to Tabata that was followed by Walker’s run-scoring single. Pence misplayed the ball in right field, allowing Walker to advance to third, from where he scored on a wild pitch to push the Pirates lead to 9-6.
The home side dashed any hopes of a comeback with three runs in the eighth off Casey Daigle on RBI hits by Walker, Alvarez and Kratz, who drove in the first run of his career.
The Astros had held the Pirates to 15 runs in the first seven meetings before Saturday…Houston right-hander Felipe Paulino, who was scheduled to start Tuesday at Wrigley Field, instead will return to Houston to undergo an MRI on Sunday and then be examined by the Astros medical staff on Monday…He has been on the disabled list since June 21 with right shoulder tendinitis, which flared up again during a Friday workout in Pittsburgh…The Pirates, who drew better than 36,000 Saturday night, improved to 6-1 playing in front of home crowds of 30,000 or more…Kratz picked up the first two hits of his career. Alvarez has hit safely in 13 of his last 15 games…Pence extended his hitting streak to a season-high eight games.