The Pittsburgh Pirates had gone 13 months without a shutout.
Jeff Suppan ended that drought in his last start, and will look to turn in another impressive performance when the Pirates meet the Houston Astros in the middle game of their weekend series at PNC Park.
The 28-year-old right-hander has lasted at least seven innings and given up no more than three earned runs in three straight starts. Sunday’s effort was by far his best, as he held the Colorado Rockies to just four hits in a 9-0 win.
“I took it inning by inning and was able to keep making my pitches,” said Suppan, who hadn’t thrown a shutout since April 29, 2002 with Kansas City. “Everything kind of happened for us.”
Suppan will now look to help the Pirates extend their winning streak to three games.
In Friday’s series opener, Reggie Sanders homered in the eighth inning to lead the Pirates to a 3-2 victory.
The Astros, who had won seven of their first eight against the Pirates this season, lost for the seventh time in 10 games. Houston trails the NL Central-leading St. Louis Cardinals by one game.
STANDINGS: Astros - 2nd place, 1 GB, NL Central. Pirates - 5th place, 7 1/2 GB, NL Central.
ASTROS PROBABLE STARTER: Kirk Saarloos (2-0, 6.20 ERA). Saarloos will be making just his third start of the season after 17 relief appearances. He has not started since he lasted 4 1-3 innings in the Astros’ 10-7 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on May 11. In his only previous appearance against the Pirates, Saarloos did not allow an earned run in a complete-game victory.
PIRATES PROBABLE STARTER: Suppan (6-7, 3.78 ERA). In four career games against the Astros, Suppan is 0-2 with a 6.26 ERA.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Astros - Richard Hidalgo, .318 avg.; Jeff Bagwell and Morgan Ensberg, 15 HRs; Jeff Kent, 50 RBIs; Lance Berkman, 54 runs; Adam Everett, 6 SBs. Pirates - Brian Giles, .310 avg.; Sanders, 14 HRs; Aramis Ramirez, 47 RBIs; Kenny Lofton, 51 runs and 15 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Astros, 7-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Astros - C Brad Ausmus is batting .188 (3-for-16) in his career against RHP Suppan. … RHP Jonathan Johnson, who spent time with the Astros earlier this season, told the team he’s retiring. He had been pitching for Triple-A New Orleans. … 2B Kent, out with tendinitis in his left wrist, was eligible to come off the disabled list Friday but still isn’t ready. Pirates - CF Lofton has missed three straight games with a strained right calf. … 1B Randall Simon, out for two weeks with torn ligaments in his right hand, will begin a rehabilitation assignment Saturday at Triple-A Nashville. … The Pirates have homered in a season-high eight straight games.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Astros - 18-24 on the road; Pirates - 17-26 at home.
INJURIES: Astros - 2B Kent (shoulder), 15-day DL; INF Jose Vizcaino (wrist), 15-day DL; LHP Carlos Hernandez (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Roy Oswalt (groin), 15-day DL; RHP Rodrigo Rosario (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Brian Moehler (elbow), 60-day DL. Pirates - 1B Randall Simon (hand), 15-day DL; INF Pat Meares (hand), 60-day DL; INF Pokey Reese (thumb), 60-day DL; LHP Dave Williams (shoulder), 60-day DL.