Pirates Take Another Road Series With 7-5 Victory In Extra Innings

By Chad Carlson
Photo Credit: Bob Levey/Getty Images
The Pirates entered this afternoon’s game against the Houston Astros needing to take the final game of the series before heading home for a very important home-stand at PNC Park.  The Buccos used the long ball yesterday to produce the bulk of their offense, but a horrid eighth inning doomed the club, dropping the contest to the last-place Astros, and setting up the rubber match for this afternoon.
In a game that was played more on the Astros level, the Pirates found a way to push runs across the plate, beating home team by a 7-5 score to earn another road game (and series) victory.
Pirates’ starter Kevin Correia lasted six innings, giving up three runs on five hits.  While he certainly wasn’t invincible today, he kept his team in the game, giving them a chance to win down the stretch.  His ERA continues to climb, though, which is alarming for Pirates’ fans.  After today’s effort, his ERA sits at 4.04 for the season.
The Astros took the lead in the first inning after Correia had made the first two outs with relative ease.  After a double by Jeff Keppinger, Hunter Pence slapped an RBI single through the left side of the infield, giving Houston an early advantage.
The Pirates responded in the second inning with two runs of their own from a very unlikely source.  Lyle Overbay got things started with a double.  With two outs, the Astros decided to intentionally walk Eric Fryer to put Correia to the plate with two outs.  The Buccos’ starter laced a two-run double to left field, scoring both Overbay and Fyer.  Pittsburgh occupied a 2-1 lead.
Houston responded in the third inning on a two run homerun by Keppinger.  After manager Brad Mills was thrown out of the game earlier in his at-bat for arguing balls and strikes, Keppinger blasted a ball to deep left field, scoring Clinton Barmes and giving the Astros a 3-2 lead.
Our battlin’ Buccos responded immediately in the fourth frame to tie the game.  After a Brandon Wood walk and a Fryer single, Alex Presley chopped an RBI single in between shortstop and third base, scoring Wood and evening the game, 3-3.
In his next at-bat, Wood doubled to put the lead-run in scoring position.  Presley then hammered a double of his own, scoring Wood and giving the Bucs the lead.
Joe Beimel made his first appearance in a long time for the Pirates in the seventh inning.  After getting two outs, Angel Sanchez and Michael Bourne each slapped singles, kicking Beimel out of the game in favor of Daniel McCutchen.  Andrew McCutchen made an incredible catch on a blooper hit by Barmes, charging in and sliding under Neil Walker to record the third out of the inning.
For the second straight game, the Pirates entered the bottom of the eighth inning occupying a 4-3 lead, and, for the second consecutive game, they lost the lead to the Astros.  Once again, Jose Veras started the inning, giving up a leadoff single to Keppinger.  After Pence and Carlos Lee hit two straight flyouts, Clint Hurdle opted to put Joel Hanrahan in early.  The Buccos’ closer gave up an RBI-double to Chris Johnson, allowing Keppinger to score the game-tying run.  It was Hanrahan’s first blown save of the season.
The 11th inning showed both the Astros’ and Pirates’ true colors.  Houston committed two errors, gave up two runs and three hits, while the Pirates capitalized on the mistakes and took the game away from the Astros.
Wood led off with a double to deep right field.  After Garrett Jones flied out to left center, Xavier Paul reached base on pitcher Mark Melancon’s fielding error.  Josh Harrison, who was pinch-running for Wood, reached third.  Harrison scored and Paul advanced to second on a passed ball.  Presley then singled home Paul for this third RBI of the game.  Later in the inning, Walker was intentionally walked, and McCutchen reached base safely on pitcher Aneury Rodriguez’s throwing error, allowing Presley to score. 
Despite giving up a two-out solo homerun to Humberto Quintero, Chris Resop came in and closed out the game for Pittsburgh, earning his first save. 
Overall, this was an ugly game, and series, played by these two teams.  One expects this type of play from the Astros, a team that has just lost their 63rd game in mid-July.  The Pirates, on the other hand, have come out of the All-Star break very sluggish.  After a well-pitched game on Friday by Jeff Karstens, Paul Maholm and Kevin Correia didn’t have their best games the past few days.
Still, the Pirates found ways to win two out of the three games this weekend.  Friday, it was Andrew McCutchen, with his two run triple, who made the difference, along with the outstanding performance from Karstens.  Today, Alex Presley, Brandon Wood, and yes, Correia, led the way on the offensive end. 
This is what good teams do.  They win even when they don’t play well.  When you’re contending for the division, which is what the Pirates are doing this year, you need to win games against the bad teams in the league.  They did that this weekend, and now they return home for an important home-stand.
The Buccos welcome the Cincinnati Reds to PNC Park for a three-game series starting tomorrow night.  James McDonald will make the start for Pittsburgh.
Record Vs. Astros: 9-3
Record Vs. N.L. Central: 22-13
Record On The Road: 26-22
Overall Record: 49-44

Chad Carlson

Co-Editor of Fans From The Stands, Pirates' Beat Writer For Armchair Report, Sports writer for AMN, SteelTownRock And Music City Encore Editor

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