Karstens, Bullpen Shutout Astros

by Zane Heiple

Photo by AP
After a 6-4 home stand, the Pittsburgh Pirates headed to Texas for a three game series with their division rivals the Houston Astros.  While the Astros have the worst record in baseball, Minute Maid Park was not kind to the Buccos in 2010, where they posted a 0-9 record.  Jeff Karstens would be given the task of getting their 2011 campaign in Houston off to a winning start, while Bud Norris would counter for the Stros. 
Garrett Jones got the Pirates on the board with no outs in the second inning, when he hit a single to right field that scored Neil Walker. 
That would be the only run of support Karstens would receive in his 6.2 innings pitched tonight.  He would strikeout three, while only giving up three hits.  Chris Resop would come out of the bullpen and strike out the only batter he would face to close out the seventh.  The Astros also had a strong outing from their starter.  Norris would finish his day pitching seven innings allowing one run on six hits, while striking out nine and walking two. 
The Pirates would use three pitchers in the eighth inning to collect the three needed outs.  After walking a batter to put runners on first and second with one out, Jose Veras would be able to get Jason Michaels and Michael Bourn to fly out to end the threat.  The Houston bullpen would shutdown Pittsburgh’s offense as they would not give up a hit in two innings of work.
A 1-0 lead in the bottom of the ninth set the stage for Joel Hanrahan to close out the game.  He would collect his 18th save of the year by getting the first two batters to ground out and then Ronny Cedeno made a diving catch to finish of the win for the Buccos.
Another great night by the pitching staff led the Pirates to victory.  Hanrahan collected his 18th save tonight, the Buccos surpassed their 2010 road wins total tonight with their 18th road win for this season, and Pittsburgh once again is at the .500 mark.  Hopefully Pittsburgh can get over the .500 mark and stay there starting tomorrow when these two teams battle again at 8:05.  Charlie Morton will take the ball to the hill tomorrow for the Pirates.
Record vs. Astros:  3-1
Record vs. N.L. Central:  14-10
Record on the Road:  18-15
Overall Record:  33-33
As Always…
Let’s Go Bucs!!!

Zane Heiple

Zane is Co-Editor of Fans From The Stands and a weekly contributor for Armchair Report on NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB, and NCAA related topics. He's also the smartest man in the world. Just ask him.

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