Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) – Bud Norris tossed seven strong innings and the Houston Astros’ bats awoke late to pull away with a 8-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates to avoid a three-game sweep.
Norris (5-6) allowed just two runs on seven hits as Houston halted five-game losing streak. The club has won just three times in the last 16 games.
Hunter Pence had three hits, scored twice and drove in two runs, while Jeff Keppinger also knocked in two runs for the victors.
Andrew McCutchen brought in the only two runs for the Pirates, who had a three-game win streak snapped.
Pittsburgh’s Charlie Morton (7-5) looked good after hurling five scoreless innings, but gave up five runs — four earned — during the final one-third of an inning he threw. He allowed eight total hits and struck out six over the 5 1/3 inning start.
“He pitched well except for the hiccup in the sixth,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Morton. “The ball wasn’t sinking, but he was efficient through five.”
Alex Presley led off the Pirates’ first inning with a single and moved to second on Chase d’Arnaud’s sacrifice bunt. After Garrett Jones walked, McCutchen lined an RBI base hit into left.
The 1-0 edge stayed that way until the sixth when the Astros finally solved Morton by putting up five runs to chase him off the hill. Michael Bourn started the big inning, reaching on a throwing error from d’Arnaud and scoring on Angel Sanchez’s double to right-center. Pence lined the ball to center for a base hit to plate Sanchez for a 2-1 lead.
Carlos Lee kept the no-out rally going when he hit a diving line drive to straightaway center that skipped under a sliding McCutchen for an RBI triple. Lee then came home on Keppinger’s double down the left field line before Morton finally got the first out of the inning on a Brett Wallace groundout.
The Astros kept hitting, though, as Clint Barmes singled in Keppinger to end Morton’s outing and go up 5-1.
The Pirates got one back during the same inning when McCutchen fisted a broken-bat groundout to short that brought d’Arnaud’s home.
However, Houston poured it on with a three-run ninth to make up the final score. Bourn had an RBI double and scored on Pence’s single. Pence then moved to third on Lee’s single and scored on Keppinger’s sacrifice fly.
McCutchen has reached base safely in each of his last 19 games played at PNC Park…Lee has four triples this season…Barmes hit his 300th career RBI in the sixth inning…Pittsburgh still leads the season series 7-2…Houston was 5-for-10 with runners in scoring position.