Pirates 4, Astros 1
The 6-foot-5 Morris (8-8) had gone 0-1 in his first four starts with the Pirates since coming over in a trade from the San Francisco Giants on July 31.
He and pitching coach Jim Colborn worked before Saturday to help him take advantage of his height.
“Sometimes when you’re tall, you forget how it affects you,” Morris said. “I just made some adjustments to my delivery to try and stay taller and get more leverage on my sinker. It helped tonight.”
Morris went six innings and allowed one run and four hits. He struck out two and walked two. After allowing a single to Hunter Pence in the first inning, Morris sat down 14 of the next 15 batters, including 12 in a row.
“It was a great starting performance by Matt Morris,” manager Jim Tracy said. “And the job our bullpen did piecing it together to get to Matt Capps was a real key.”
John Grabow and Franquelis Osoria combined to pitch two scoreless innings of relief and Matt Capps pitched the ninth for his 13th save in 15 chances one night after all three pitched in a marathon 15-inning series opener. Pittsburgh got eight shutout innings of relief Friday and three more Saturday.
“Pitching deep into the game is what I’m supposed to do,” Morris said. “But I have to tip my hat to the bullpen. What they did yesterday and today was tremendous.”
“I was just going on adrenaline,” said Capps, who threw a rare two innings Friday. “There wasn’t a whole lot in the tank.”
Troy Patton (0-1) was making his first major league start after being called up from Triple-A Round Rock late Friday night. In 5 2-3 innings, he gave up three runs and six hits as the Astros lost their third straight and sixth in their last seven.
“I thought Troy was fine,” manager Phil Garner said. “He showed some good composure out there and his best pitch tonight, I thought, was his fastball. His change-up was good tonight, except the one he left up to Bautista on that two-run homer, but that is not something I expect him to do regularly.”
Patton pitched 3 1-3 scoreless innings before Bautista’s first home run.
“I’m sure he was (nervous),” Garner said. “I sure hope he was. But after the game started and got going, he really appeared to be fine.”
Patton, from nearby Tomball, bought 35 tickets for friends and relatives to attend the game.
“I felt pretty good,” Patton said. “I felt like I did all right. I felt like I made one big mistake on the solo home run and on the two-run homer, I think he just saw it out of my hand pretty good. All in all, I think I competed well and pitched all right.”
Bautista’s first homer came after Adam LaRoche had reached on a fielder’s choice. The shot to left field gave the Pirates a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning.
Josh Phelps added a pinch-hit solo homer in the ninth for the Pirates. Phelps has nine hits in his last 10 at-bats.
Pirates SS Jack Wilson had to leave the game because of a right shin bruise. He was injured when Ty Wigginton slid hard into him as he was attempting a throw in the seventh inning. He was replaced by Cesar Izturis. “It’s a pretty good contusion and he has a scrape,” Tracy said. “He got hit pretty hard. We’re going to be open-minded concerning tomorrow and see how he feels.”… It was Bautista’s first career multihomer game. … Nate McLouth has stolen 12 bases this season, stretching his string of steals without getting caught to 19 dating back to last season. … Biggio’s hit in the sixth inning was the 3,040th of his career, moving him to within 13 of Rod Carew in 21st place on the hits list.