Matt Morris hasn’t made much of an impression with his new team. He didn’t leave his old team with much of one, either.
Since coming over in a trade with San Francisco on July 31, Morris (7-8, 4.51 ERA) is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in four starts with the Pirates. The veteran right-hander is 0-5 with a 7.04 ERA in his past 12 starts - eight coming with the Giants - since his last victory over Toronto on June 11.
Morris, though, did have his best performance since joining the Pirates on Monday in his team’s 4-2, 11-inning victory at Colorado. He allowed one earned run and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings.
“It was good just to make pitches,” Morris told the Pirates’ official Web site. “I’ve been struggling a little bit. Early I used my offspeed stuff, and I think I slowed them down, so any heater that came, I wasn’t throwing it hard, I just surprised them.”
Morris did not receive a decision in his only start this season against the Astros, giving up three runs and six hits in six innings on May 15. He is 11-10 with a 3.42 ERA in 29 career starts against Houston, winning four of his last five decisions.
Morris will be asked to keep the Pirates (56-71) hot after they outlasted the Astros 8-3 in 15 innings in Friday’s series opener.
Adam LaRoche’s three-run homer triggered a five-run 15th as Pittsburgh moved out of last place in the Central, three percentage points ahead of the Astros.
“I was having flashbacks of an 18-inning game we played here two years ago,” LaRoche said of a game he played while with Atlanta. “Me and Lance Berkman each hit grand slams in that one and Chris Burke won it with a homer.
“I was joking with Lance and (Brad) Ausmus that we would do this. I kept saying, ‘Trust me, we’re going to play 18 today. I can feel it.”’
The Pirates, winners of six of seven, lead the majors with 159 runs and 39 homers this month. LaRoche has played a big role in that production, batting .356 (32-for-90) with five homers and 18 RBIs in his last 22 games.
With a 14-9 record in August, Pittsburgh needs to win only two of its remaining seven games for its first winning month this season. Pittsburgh has had only five of 36 winning months since the start of the 2001 season.
Mike Lamb matched a career high with four hits for Houston (57-72), which has lost five of six. The Astros are 2-8 this season against the Pirates, averaging 2.3 runs in those games.
“I think I’ve said it more than my fair share this year: we had a lot of chances and missed them,” Houston manager Phil Garner said. “We didn’t make contact a few times. We just didn’t make it happen.”
Troy Patton will make his major league debut for the Astros. The 21-year-old left-hander went 4-2 with a 4.59 ERA in eight starts for Triple-A Round Rock after he was promoted from Double-A Corpus Christi, where he was 6-6 with a 2.99 ERA in 16 starts.
“I like his stuff,” Garner told the Astros’ official Web site. “I like his ability to compete. He’s got good control, he has good pitches. This is an opportunity for him to come up to the big leagues and get his feet wet.”
Patton has struggled in his two most recent starts, yielding 10 runs over 11 innings. Prior to those games, however, he threw seven scoreless innings on Aug. 8.