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By Chad Carlson



Photo Credit: AP

 The Pirates’ victory in the opening game of their three-game series against the Houston Astros was the team’s 18th road win of the 2011 season, surpassing their road in total from a year ago. The Pirates have been doing a lot of that lately: exceeding expectations and impressing critics, other teams, and even themselves.

Charlie Morton put together another satisfactory outing and the offense finally put a significant amount of runs on the board, leading the Pirates to their second straight victory over the Astros by a final score of 7-3.

With the win, Morton improved his season mark to 7-3, giving up three runs on eight hits while walking two and striking out three batters. While this wasn’t the shutdown performance we’ve seen from Charlie previously this season, he put his team in a position to win the game, and he got himself out of some pretty tough jams throughout the early innings.

The offense finally woke up tonight in Houston, and the onslaught began early. After an Andrew McCutchen walk in the first inning, Neil Walker crushed an RBI triple to right, giving the Buccos an early lead. Real Deal would tally his second RBI of the day in the third inning on an RBI single to shallow center, scoring Matt Diaz.

After the Astros scored a run a piece in the next three innings, Pittsburgh stormed back in the sixth for three runs of their own. Garrett Jones’ single to right scored Xavier Paul to tie the game, 3-3. McCutchen then reached base on Brett Wallace’s throwing error. Jose Tabata scored on the play. Walker then finished the scoring with a sacrifice fly to left field, allowing Jones to tag and score from third.

Paul added a couple insurance runs in the seventh inning with a two run homerun to left field, which also scored Michael McKenry.

Once again, the bullpen came in and did a great job. Daniel McCutchen pitched three innings tonight, giving up only three hits, while Joel Hanrahan relieved Chris Resop in the ninth, tallying the final two outs of the game and picking up his 19th save of the season.

The Pirates are now 34-33, one game over .500 with a chance to sweep the Houston Astros tomorrow afternoon. This marks another road series victory for the Buccos, something that seemed nearly impossible a year ago. While the pitching has been solid all season for Pittsburgh, the one worry we’ve had has been the lack of consistent offensive production. Tonight’s game was hopefully a stepping stone for the offensive to get back on track and start putting together a string of more productive performances.

The Pirates will look for the sweep of the Astros tomorrow at Minute Maid Park. James McDonald will get the start for the Buccos.

Record Vs. Astros: 4-1
Record Vs. N.L. Central: 15-10
Record On The Road: 19-15
Overall Record 34-33

And…

As Always…

Let’s Go Bucs!