Pettitte is working his way back after having season-ending elbow surgery last August. Coming off his first win since July 21, he suffered a loss in a 2-0 defeat to Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
The 6-foot-5 left-hander battled in and out of trouble, allowing two runs and nine hits in six innings as Houston was blanked for the second straight game and swept by the Pirates in a rain-shortened series.
“It was ugly, it was rough,” said Pettitte, who fell to 2-1 with a 1.59 ERA in three career starts against Pittsburgh. “It could have been a lot worse. But the starting pitchers have got to put zeros on the board until our guys can at least scratch across a run.”
Houston, though, is showing signs of breaking out of its slump. The Astros have won two straight, scoring a combined 16 runs, after just 14 in a season-high six-game losing streak. Mike Lamb hit his first career grand slam and drove in five runs in the Astros’ 9-3 win over the Chicago Cubs on Sunday.
“Hopefully that means our offense is starting to pick up,” said first baseman Jeff Bagwell, who went 1-for-3 with a RBI. “If nothing else, it will bring some good feelings to some guys.”
Adam Everett also hit a three-run shot for Houston, which continues a six-game homestand.
The Pirates, who are mired in their own offensive woes, suffered a three-game sweep at home to the San Francisco Giants with an 8-3 loss on Sunday. Daryle Ward hit two home runs Sunday for the Pirates, who have just 13 homers in 23 games this season.
Pittsburgh manager Lloyd McClendon hopes the trip can help them generate some offense.
“When a young club isn’t doing well at home, you start to press a little bit so maybe it’s better to go on the road and relax,” McClendon said.
However, the Pirates have not had much success at Minute Maid Park, losing 19 of the last 21 games.