Astros 4, Pirates 2

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HOUSTON (AP)—Wade Miller wanted another chance to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, and he took advantage of it.

Miller pitched six solid innings and Jeff Bagwell homered as the Houston Astros defeated Pittsburgh 4-2 Friday night for their fifth straight victory.

Miller (6-9) managed to beat Jeff D’Amico and the Pirates for the first time this season. Miller had been 0-2 in matchups with D’Amico this year, including an 8-3 loss Sunday in which he allowed seven runs and 11 hits.

“I was anxious to get out there tonight,” Miller said. “Basically, what I was thinking about was getting back to good mechanics and good pitching. I wanted to go after them.”

Adam Everett, Craig Biggio and Morgan Ensberg also drove in runs for the NL Central-leading Astros.

Pirates first baseman Randall Simon served the second game of a three-game suspension for hitting one of the Milwaukee Brewers’ sausage mascots with his bat Wednesday. Simon was also fined $2,000 by major league baseball Friday.

D’Amico also beat Miller and the Astros on May 14. This time, Miller allowed one run on four hits and a walk, striking out five.

“I have faced this team a lot,” Miller said. “I know them and they know me. It’s just a matter of going out and executing your pitches.

“(D’Amico) pitched a good game again tonight. It was just a matter of me wanting to get back out there and make my pitches.”

Catcher Brad Ausmus said there was a big difference between Miller on Friday and his performance five days earlier.

“His location with all his pitches was the difference,” Miller said. “His fastball, his curve, his changeup were all located better.”

Astros manager Jimy Williams agreed.

“He pitched six good innings for us,” Williams said. “That certainly had to make him feel good. The big thing was he got a win for us.

“I think his changeup was very good. Certainly all the pitches go together. His fastball and breaking ball were good, too. But I think he got four or five outs with his changeup. They couldn’t settle in on his speed.”

D’Amico (6-9) went 5 2-3 innings, giving up four runs and nine hits. He walked none and struck out two.

The Pirates noticed the difference in Miller.

“I was just as good as I was before,” D’Amico said. “He just threw a heck of a game. It just came at a bad time for us.”

The Pirates are 4-5 against Miller in nine games against him.

“It was the same old Wade Miller,” Jack Wilson said. “He was working his fastball and slider and his changeup to right-handed hitters. That’s the first time I’ve seen him throw that (changeup). That’s just another thing to be aware of.

“He had a little better pop than he did in Pittsburgh. He had command of all three of his pitches.”

Brad Lidge pitched a scoreless seventh for Houston and Octavio Dotel gave up a solo homer to Abraham Nunez in the eighth. Billy Wagner worked a perfect ninth for his 24th save in 27 chances.

Bagwell hit his 16th home run of the season in the first inning and the 396th of his career, tying him for 37th on the all-time list with Joe Carter and Frank Thomas.

The Pirates tied it at 1 in the fourth on Carlos Rivera’s sacrifice fly to right.

Everett had an RBI double and Biggio an RBI single in the fifth. Ensberg’s single to left drove in Richard Hidalgo in the sixth for a 4-1 lead.

Nunez hit his first home run of the season in the eighth inning.

Notes

Houston 2B Jeff Kent went 2-for-4 with two RBIs in his first rehab assignment game with Double-A Round Rock against San Antonio. Kent played second base and made an error. He’s scheduled to be the DH on Saturday and play a third game with the Express on Monday. If all goes well, he’ll return to the Astros next Thursday at Cincinnati. … Pittsburgh’s Matt Stairs left in the fifth inning with a strained right groin. He is day-to-day. … Pirates catcher Jason Kendall stretched his hitting streak to 16 games, tying a career high and currently tops in the majors. … Houston’s Geoff Blum extended his career-high hitting streak to 13 games … RF Hidalgo nailed Kenny Lofton trying to stretch a single to a double with a strong throw to second base in the fourth inningfor his 11th assist, second-best in the majors.

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