Astros 7, Pirates 5

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HOUSTON (AP)—Kirk Bullinger waited nearly six years for his second major league victory.

“It has really been a while. Hopefully this one will help us out and get us on a winning streak,” Bullinger said after the Houston Astros beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-5 Monday night.

Bullinger (1-1) pitched a scoreless fifth inning in relief of starter Tim Redding to earn the win. His other victory came in his major league debut on Aug. 30, 1998, while pitching for Montreal against San Diego.

“I’ve got a rubber arm. When you don’t have a lot of muscle you have to have a rubber arm,” he said. “It was a tough spot and I just wanted to keep us in the game so we could hopefully come back.”

Lance Berkman hit a tying three-run double, and Jeff Kent drove in the go-ahead run in a big fifth inning. But it was Bullinger’s fine inning that the Astros were talking about.

“When Bullinger came in at that point it was the breaking point of the game,” newly acquired reliever David Weathers said. “He stopped the bleeding, and it was the key to the game.”

Berkman was 2-for-4 with four RBIs for the Astros, who came back from four runs down to win their second in a row.

“Before that inning he (Josh Fogg) had dominated us. When I went up there I wasn’t thinking about a double or a home run or anything. I told myself just don’t hit into a double play, just get a ball to hit in the air,” Berkman said.

Kent left the game after the seventh inning after jamming his right pinkie while sliding into third base in the fifth. He remained in the game, but didn’t take the field for the eighth inning.

“To be honest with you, I was going to give him tomorrow off anyway,” Houston manager Jimy Williams said. “We’ll just have to wait and see. Hopefully it’s OK.”

Octavio Dotel allowed Randall Simon’s pinch-hit double in the ninth before finishing for his 14th save in 17 chances.

Fogg (4-6) allowed five runs and eight hits in four-plus innings in the Pirates’ fourth straight loss. It was only his second loss in six decisions.

“I couldn’t do anything in that inning,” Fogg said. “I couldn’t make pitches and I couldn’t get outs. I was leaving the ball in the middle of the plate and I was leaving it up.

“It was stupid and I’m ashamed of how bad it was. Our offense got me the lead and our defense played great. We had a four-run lead and I gave up five. That is unacceptable.”

Pittsburgh manager Lloyd McClendon agreed with Fogg.

“Things fell apart for him real quick in the fifth. Right from the start of the inning he wasn’t good,” McClendon said. “He got in trouble with his breaking ball. He left a few up and he hit a guy and those big boppers took advantage of it.”

Pittsburgh has lost 18 of 21 games, and 14 of 15 in Houston.

With Houston trailing 4-0 in the fifth, Orlando Palmeiro led off with a single and moved to second when pinch-hitter Adam Everett was hit by a pitch by Fogg. Craig Biggio singled to load the bases for Jose Vizcaino, who drove in Palmeiro with an RBI single.

Berkman followed with a bases-loaded, three-run double to tie it. Kent followed with a single to center to give Houston a 5-4 lead.

The Astros added a run in the sixth on Jason Lane’s second home run of the season.

Berkman hit an RBI single in the eighth to make it 7-4.

Pittsburgh took a 4-0 lead against Redding in the fourth on Jason Bay’s RBI double, Tike Redman’s RBI single, a run-scoring groundout by Jose Castillo and another RBI single by Jason Kendall.

Redding allowed four runs and eight hits in just 3 2-3 innings.


Houston’s Jeff Bagwell needs one home run to tie Cal Ripken Jr. for 32nd on baseball’s career list with 431. … The Pirates had a streak of eight games with a homer snapped. … Fogg (26-27) was the only the only Pittsburghstarter with a career record of .500 or better before taking the loss.

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