The rookie left-hander looks to continue his brilliant first full season in the majors as the Astros wrap up a two-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.
Robertson has won each of his last five starts, and is unbeaten in 14 consecutive outings dating to a 10-2 loss at Montreal on April 25. He was not at his best Thursday, but got the job done in a 5-4 win at Cincinnati.
The 26-year-old Robertson allowed three earned runs and eight hits over five innings, striking out two without a walk.
“I didn’t feel great,” Robertson said after earning his eighth straight win. “I felt too strong, but I didn’t feel like I could overpower people.”
The Astros have won 10 of their last 15, but all five of those losses have come against Pittsburgh, including Monday’s series-opening 5-3 setback.
Matt Stairs homered and drove in two runs as the Pirates jumped on Houston starter Tim Redding for five runs in the first three innings. Pittsburgh, which swept a three-game series from Houston from July 4-6, has won four straight at home against the Astros.
Bagwell’s homer was the 401st of his career and third in the last two games.
STANDINGS: Astros - 1st place, NL Central. Pirates - 4th place, 8 1/2 GB, NL Central.
ASTROS PROBABLE STARTER: Robertson (9-3, 4.89 ERA). Robertson, who went 0-2 with a 6.53 ERA in 11 appearances last year, is making his first career start against the Pirates. He yielded two runs and four hits over 1 2-3 innings in one relief outing against Pittsburgh.
PIRATES PROBABLE STARTER: Kris Benson (5-9, 4.97 ERA). Benson is 0-4 in his last six starts, including Thursday’s 7-5 setback to Milwaukee. The right-hander was pounded for six runs and three hits, including two homers, over two innings. He had yielded only three earned runs over 17 innings in his previous three outings. Benson is 2-7 with a 4.54 ERA in 13 career starts against the Astros.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Astros - Richard Hidalgo, .329 avg.; Jeff Bagwell, 21 HRs; Lance Berkman, 64 RBIs and 67 runs; Adam Everett, 6 SBs. Pirates - Jason Kendall, .312 avg.; Reggie Sanders, 16 HRs; Aramis Ramirez, 67 RBIs; Kenny Lofton, 58 runs and 18 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Astros, 9-6.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Astros - 1B Bagwell is hitting .433 during a nine-game hitting streak. … LHP Robertson is 4-2 with a 5.79 ERA in nine appearances, including eight starts, on the road this year. … 2B Kent is hitting .200 (4-for-20) with four RBIs in his career against RHP Benson. Pirates - C Kendall went 2-for-4 on Monday to extend his hitting streak to 23 games, currently the longest in the majors. Kendall’s streak is the Pirates’ second longest this season behind Kenny Lofton’s 26-game streak, which was one short of the 1899 club record by Jimmy Williams. Kendall is batting .393 during his streak. … OF Stairs has 11 homers this year, 10 in his last 33 games. … Benson is 1-6 with a 4.92 ERA in 10 home starts this year.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Astros - 22-27 on the road; Pirates - 22-28 at home.
INJURIES: Astros - INF Jose Vizcaino (wrist), 15-day DL; LHP Carlos Hernandez (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Rodrigo Rosario (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Brian Moehler (elbow), 60-day DL. Pirates - INF Pat Meares (hand), 60-day DL; INF Pokey Reese (thumb), 60-day DL; LHP Dave Williams (shoulder), 60-day DL.