Astros third baseman Scott Moore tags out Pirates Casey McGehee.
Peter Diana / Post-Gazette
Garrett Jones is greeted at home by Andrew McCutchen after hitting a two run homer against the Astros.
The Pirates defeated the Astros, 11-2.
By Bill Brink Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The extra-base hits came in bunches Monday night.
Some hit off the Clemente Wall in right. Two home runs hit the right-field foul pole. Others found gaps, and the majority of them contributed to the pile of runs heaped upon the Houston Astros.
The Pirates had 18 hits in their 11-2 win against the Astros Monday night at PNC Park, their fifth win in the past six games. They have scored at least 11 runs in three of those six games.
"We took some better swings," manager Clint Hurdle said. "If a mistake was made, we seemed to get on it."
The Pirates had nine extra-base hits in the game, including two triples and two home runs. They scored four runs apiece in the fourth and fifth inning, then went station to station in the sixth to add one more before getting the final two in the eighth.
Garrett Jones and Andrew McCutchen each had four hits, and Jones fell a triple short of the cycle. Casey McGehee had two doubles, Neil Walker had a home run and a double, and Alex Presley and Drew Sutton each went 2 for 5 with a triple.
McCutchen said the improved offense makes it easier for the team to be patient at the plate.
"We know it's just a matter of time before things start to click for us," he said.
In the fourth inning, the lineup clicked against Astros starter Jordan Lyles. McCutchen poked a single through the right side before Jones hit his 11th home run, a missile that clanged off the right-field foul pole. Walker reached for a curveball and hit his fifth homer, also off the right-field foul pole, to give the Pirates a 3-1 lead.
Casey McGehee doubled off the wall in right and scored on Clint Barmes' single to extend the lead.
Sutton tripled in the fifth before McCutchen and Jones hit RBI doubles. McGehee drove in two runs with his second double of the game after Walker walked.
Four consecutive singles scored a run in the sixth. Jones, batting with the bases loaded, dribbled a ball down the third-base line off lefty Fernando Abad for an RBI infield single. The hit was Jones' first off a left-handed batter since Aug. 25, 2011 and broke a streak of 24 at-bats against lefties without a hit.
The offense took the pressure off James McDonald (8-3), who overcame poor control and a series of jams to pitch seven innings. He allowed two runs and four hits and walked five batters, one of them intentional. Only 64 of his 110 pitches were strikes.
"I was happy that I recovered," McDonald said.
McDonald escaped the first without allowing much damage despite issuing three walks. He walked the leadoff batter, Jose Altuve, on four pitches, then retired the next two batters. He walked Brian Bogusevic, putting men on first and second. He had an 0-2 count against J.D. Martinez, but Martinez blooped a single down the right-field line, scoring Altuve.
McDonald then walked Jason Castro to load the bases, but got Scott Moore to ground out and end the inning.
"He pitched himself into some tight situations," Hurdle said. "We were lucky to only be one run down."
McDonald's control got him in trouble again in the fourth. He allowed a leadoff double to Martinez, then got two outs. He intentionally walked Jordan Schafer to reach the pitcher's spot in the order, but walked Lyles on five pitches to load the bases. Altuve grounded into a force-out, though, and the Astros couldn't score.
McDonald's error created a jam in the fifth. Carlos Lee singled with one out, and Bogusevic grounded back up the middle. The ball glanced off McDonald's glove, but, when he fielded it, he threw to second rather than first. The throw bounced into the outfield and gave the Astros runners on first and third with one out.
On the next pitch, he got Martinez to ground into a double play and end the inning.
"The game's not won in one inning," McDonald said. "You have to keep going, you have to keep your team in the game. You never know what could happen."
What happened was his lineup came to his defense and did so with conviction.
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