Pirates 5, Astros 3
The Pirates, the only team to beat the Astros in their last 15 games, ended Houston’s five-game winning streak. Pittsburgh has won four straight at home against the Astros since July 4.
Pittsburgh still trails Houston by 8 1/2 games in the NL Central, one reason why general manager Dave Littlefield said he’s seen no real sign the Pirates will become contenders.
Stairs said the Pirates took notice of the comment, which some took as a sign that management has effectively given up on this season and is looking to rebuild. The Pirates have won both games since All-Star reliever Mike Williams was traded to Philadelphia in what might be the first of several deals by Littlefield.
“We’d like to beat them again (Tuesday), get to 7 1/2 out and put some pressure on the front office … show that we can get back in the race,” Stairs said.
If nothing else, the Pirates are making it difficult for the Astros to pull away. The Astros had won 10 of 11, matching Atlanta for the NL’s best pace over that span, but are 2-5 against the Pirates over their last 15 games. The last team to beat Houston other than Pittsburgh was Milwaukee on July 2.
Josh Fogg (6-4) withstood consecutive homers by Jeff Bagwell and Jeff Kent in the sixth to win for the fourth time in his last five decisions, despite lasting just 5 1-3 innings. Fogg gave up three runs and six hits.
“That wasn’t a very good job by me,” Fogg said. “I wanted to go seven or eight innings and I didn’t make it through the sixth.”
Bagwell’s homer was the 401st of his career and his third in two games.
Julian Tavarez followed Fogg with 1 2-3 scoreless innings, and Scott Sauerbeck came on with a runner on first to get three outs in the eighth. Mike Lincoln pitched the ninth for his second save in as many days following the Williams trade, getting Geoff Blum to fly out with runners on second and third to end it.
“We had a chance in the ninth,” Bagwell said. “We have confidence as an offense, but we didn’t get enough runs today to pick up the pitching staff.”
Stairs hit a solo homer estimated at 461 feet in the third, a drive that easily cleared the seats in right-center and bounded down a walkway into the Allegheny River.
Redding, who pitched six shutout innings in Houston’s 5-2 victory over Fogg and the Pirates on July 13, gave up five runs and seven hits in 2 1-3 innings. He has a 3-9 career record on the road.
“I didn’t have anything working for me,” said Redding, who pitched for the first time in eight days. “I had to throw the ball over the middle of the plate and they weren’t hitting them at anybody, everything they hit found holes.”
Kendall went 2-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to 23 games, currently thelongest in the majors.
Eleven homers have reached the river since PNC Park opened in 2001, but only one—by former Astros outfielder Daryle Ward—did so on the fly. Stairs has twice reached the river on homers that bounced in. … Stairs’ homer was the longest at home by a Pirates player this season, topping a 457-foot drive to center by pitcher Kip Wells. … Tavarez was called out for interference for running several feet wide of the basepath on a sacrifice bunt attempt in the seventh. … Bagwell is hitting .433 during a nine-game hitting streak. … Kendall’s streak is the Pirates’ second longest this season behind Lofton’s 26-game streak, which was one short of the 1899 club record by Jimmy Williams. … Stairs’ homer was his 11th and 10th in 33 games. … Kendall is hitting.393 (39-of-99) during his streak.