Pirates 7, Astros 4

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HOUSTON (AP)—Craig Wilson ended a long slump—at the Houston Astros’ expense.

Wilson was 4-for-4 with a tiebreaking, eighth-inning single in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 7-4 victory over the Astros on Tuesday night

“Craig has started coming on. He’s looked good in batting practice and now he’s carried it over into a game,” Pittsburgh manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He’s the type of a guy who can carry us 10 or 12 games at a time.”

Wilson entered the game 10-for-51.

“I don’t think I’ve been as bad as the numbers show, I just got off to a bad start. It felt good to finally hit a ball hard,” Wilson said.

He had difficulty explaining his history as streaky hitter.

“If I had an explanation I would shorten the streaks and drink the potion and bottle it,” Wilson said. “The only difference is when your hitting good the ball seems to find a hole and when your going bad those plays are made.”

With the score 4-all, singles by Rob Mackowiak and Jason Bay and a walk to Daryle Ward loaded the bases with no outs for Wilson, who singled to left off Chad Qualls (1-3). Bobby Hill followed with a two-run double.

“We just had a few bad hops, but that’s baseball. It could have gone either way,” Qualls said. “I felt real strong. I felt as good as I have ever felt.”

Rick White (1-2) pitched 1 2-3 scoreless innings, and Jose Mesa worked the ninth for his ninth save in nine chances. Mesa has saved every win by the Pirates (9-16), who outhit Houston 14-11 and stopped a four-game losing streak.

“He may end up with 82 saves, but I would just like to have a couple of easy ones,” McClendon said.

Ezequiel Astacio made his major league debut for Houston, which had won three in a row, and gave up four runs and seven hits in six innings. The 25-year-old right-hander struck out six and walked one with a balk and a wild pitch.

“The first inning I felt pretty nervous, but after that I got in a groove and I felt good,” Astacio said. “It wasn’t an excellent outing, but I know that I’m going to improve,”

Pittsburgh starter Kip Wells gave up four runs—three earned—and nine hits in six innings.

Craig Biggio and Mike Lamb hit RBI doubles in the first for Houston, but Pittsburgh took a 3-2 lead in the third. Jack Wilson hit his first home run this tear, and Mackowiak hit an RBI double and scored on Ward’s single.

Morgan Ensberg tied the score with a run-scoring single in the bottom half. Craig Wilson’s sixth-inning homer put Pittsburgh ahead 4-3, but Biggio hit an RBI single in the bottom half.


Biggio has 574 doubles to tie Charlie Gehringer for 16th on the career list. … Ensberg has reached base in 10 of his last 13 at-bats. … Pittsburgh has lost 20 of its last 23 games at Minute Maid Park.

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