Astros-Pirates Preview

The Associated Press

The Pittsburgh Pirates saw an impressive streak by one of their starting pitchers come to an end before rallying to win their latest game.

As they continue their four-game set with the Houston Astros on Wednesday, there's another pattern they'd be happy to see disappear.

Making his 15th home start since joining the Pirates, Kevin Correia looks for his first win against an NL opponent at PNC Park as he faces an Astros team he's never beaten.

A.J. Burnett had won eight straight starts heading into Tuesday's contest, and though he failed to extend that streak after allowing six runs in five innings, Pittsburgh's offense made sure he didn't take the loss.

Down 6-2 in the sixth, the Pirates rallied to take a 7-6 lead by the end of the seventh. When Joel Hanrahan blew the save by allowing a run in the top of the ninth, the recently acquired Drew Sutton ended it in the bottom half with his first homer since 2010.

The 8-7 win put Pittsburgh (44-36) eight games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 1992 season.

"Our resiliency has always been there, and now it's showing,'' said Pedro Alvarez, who had a pinch-hit two-run single in his first action since leaving a game Sunday with leg cramps. "It's selflessness from everybody. When you have group of guys who are invested in each other, things like that show.''

The Pirates will hit the halfway point of this season Wednesday, and they'll hope to see Correia (4-6, 4.32 ERA) snap a fairly glaring drought at PNC. The right-hander is 0-10 with a 7.27 ERA in 14 starts against NL teams in Pittsburgh since joining the club prior to last season, though he's 3-0 with a 2.63 ERA there in interleague play.

Correia's 3.35 ERA at PNC in 2012 is worlds better than what it was (7.71) in 2011, but his run-support average at home (1.91) is the majors' second-worst.

Offense wasn't an issue Friday in St. Louis, though, as Correia gave up five runs in as many innings but got credit for the Pirates' 14-5 victory.

"He competes," manager Clint Hurdle told the team's official website. "Sometimes it's kind of funny how games work out and pitchers get wins."

Correia hasn't earned one in five starts against Houston (32-49), going 0-1 with a 4.11 ERA.

This time, he has every right to believe the run support from his latest start might be there again. The Pirates have hit .341 with 16 homers and 60 runs in winning six of seven, and their 169 runs since the beginning of June lead the majors.

Andrew McCutchen, who homered Tuesday, is hitting .485 with a 1.352 OPS since June 16. He has seven hits in this series and is 14 for 24 with four homers and nine RBIs in his last six games against Houston.

McCutchen leads the majors with a .458 average against left-handers, but he's never seen Dallas Keuchel (1-0, 1.35) before.

The southpaw has given up a run apiece in each of his first three major league starts, though he's walked nine in 20 innings.

"He's showing experience beyond his time in the major leagues,'' Astros manager Brad Mills said after Keuchel issued four free passes and gave up four hits over six innings Thursday against San Diego.

A victory Wednesday would guarantee the Pirates a seventh straight home series win versus Houston.

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