Pittsburgh (14-18) at Houston (16-16)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Houston, TX
Temp: 69° F
  • Game info: 8:05 pm EDT Wed May 7, 2003
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Geoff Blum hopes the Houston Astros are learning how good they can be.

The Astros will look to extend their winning streak to a season-high six games when they meet the Pittsburgh Pirates in the third game of a four-game set at Minute Maid Park.

On Tuesday, Houston was trailing 9-4 in the eighth before rallying for a 10-9 win. With the victory, the Astros improved to .500 for the first time since they were 10-10 on April 23.

“To come back in a game like this is pretty amazing,” Blum said. “We took advantage of what they gave us and hopefully that is what good teams do.”

The six-run, eighth-inning rally allowed rookie reliever Nathan Bland to pick up his first career win. The 28-year-old lefty, joined the Astros on Friday, pitched two scoreless innings of relief in just his second major league game.

“This is just awesome, it’s really hard to explain,” said Bland, who pitched to one batter, throwing two pitches, Monday night before being taken out.

“Last night was a little bit of a shock. Then I win it tonight. It has just been ups and downs all over the place,” Bland added. “It’s not even real to me. People ask me how I feel and I don’t even know.”

Billy Wagner pitched a perfect ninth for his seventh save in eight opportunities.

The Pirates, who have lost four straight, could tie their worst losing streak of the season with a loss on Wednesday.

STANDINGS: Pirates - 5th place, 3 1/2 GB, NL Central. Astros - 3rd place, 1 1/2 GB, NL Central.

PIRATES PROBABLE STARTER: Salomon Torres (2-0, 2.59 ERA). With Josh Fogg likely to come off the disabled list soon, Torres could be making his last start for a while. On Friday, he gave up two runs and seven hits through five innings of 5-3 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. He did not get the decision. In four career games against the Astros, he is 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA.

ASTROS PROBABLE STARTER: Scott Linebrink (0-1, 4.15 ERA). Linebrink will be making just the third start of his career. Still looking for his first win, the 26-year-old right-hander has allowed four runs over 10 1-3 innings in his first two starts. On Friday, he gave up three runs and six hits over five innings of a 4-3 win over the Florida Marlins. He has made two relief appearances against the Pirates in his career, pitching a total of three scoreless innings.

OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Pirates - Jason Kendall, .296 avg.; Reggie Sanders, 6 HRs, 18 RBIs; Sanders and Kenny Lofton, 18 runs; Lofton, 6 SBs. Astros - Jeff Bagwell, .318 avg., 11 HRs and 22 RBIs; Bagwell and Craig Biggio, 21 runs; Richard Hidalgo, 4 SBs.

SEASON SERIES: Astros, 2-0.

STREAKS AND NOTES: Pirates - Pittsburgh homered 10 times in its first four games, but has hit only 11 in its last 28 games. … The Pirates made 22 errors in their first 17 games and only seven in their next 15. … C Kendall is 3-for-4 with a double in his career against Linebrink. Astros - 1B Bagwell has played 41 consecutive games without an error. … Houston relievers had pitched 13 1-3 scoreless innings before RHP Pete Munro game up two runs to the Pirates in the fifth inning on Tuesday. … SS Jose Vizacaino is just 1-for-6 (.167) in his career against Torres.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Pirates - 10-7 on the road; Astros - 10-7 at home.

INJURIES: Pirates - OF Brian Giles (knee), 15-day DL; RHP Fogg (abdominal), 15-day DL; RHP Mike Lincoln (shoulder), 60-day DL; LHP Dave Williams (shoulder), 60-day DL; IF Pat Meares (hand), 60-day DL. Astros - LHP Carlos Hernandez (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Brian Moehler (hip), 15-day DL.

Related Articles

Starting Pitchers

S. Torres Mil vs. S. Linebrink StL
7-5 Record 3-2
4.76 ERA 3.31
84 K 68
42 BB 36
1.40 WHIP 1.40