The Pirates beat the Astros, 6-4, this afternoon at PNC Park behind a quality start from pitcher Kevin Correia and offensive contributions from a handful of players.
With the victory, the Pirates (45-36) ensured they will retain a share of the National League Central lead at the season's midway point.
The Pirates climbed back from an early 2-0 deficit for their 23rd comeback victory of the season. They are also 38-0 when leading after seven innings.
The 81-game mark and the Fourth of July are two benchmarks for baseball's 162-game season that happened to coincide on the same day this season.
Backup catcher Michael McKenry continued his recent strong play, going 2 for 3 with a pair of RBIs. In his past nine games, McKenry is hitting .419 with 11 RBIs and six extra-base hits.
Neil Walker preserved a one-run Pirates lead in the seventh inning with a diving stop that prevented a run from scoring.
With Brian Bogusevic on second, Jose Altuve smoked a ground ball toward the middle of the infield. Walker dove to his right to stop the ball. He didn't keep Altuve from reaching first, but he kept Bogusevic from rounding third.
Reliever Brad Lincoln got Jed Lowrie to ground out to third to end the inning with the Pirates leading, 4-3.
In the bottom half of the inning, Pedro Alvarez gave the Pirates a pair of insurance runs with a bases-loaded single to make it 6-3. In 12 career at-bats with the bases loaded, Alvarez has a .667 batting average with 23 RBIs.
Correia lasted six innings, allowing three earned runs on six hits with a pair of strikeouts and a walk. He earned his fifth victory of the season.
Dallas Keuchel took the loss for the Astros, allowing four earned runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings, the most earned runs he has allowed in four career starts.
McKenry smacked a ball down the left-field line, allowing Garrett Jones to score from second to make it 4-2.
The Astros (32-50) cut the Pirates' lead to one run in the fifth when Bogusevic walked to lead off, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, advanced to third on a single by Jordan Schafer and scored when Jose Altuve grounded out to third.
The Pirates climbed back from a two-run deficit in the bottom of the second inning. Keuchel loaded the bases by issuing a pair of walks that sandwiched a double to centerfield by Jones. McKenry flied out to deep center field, allowing Casey McGehee to score from third and Jones and Alvarez to tag up.
Clint Barmes hit an RBI single through the right side of the infield, scoring Jones to tie the score. But Barmes was caught in a rundown on the play and was eventually tagged out. As he was being chased back toward first base, Alvarez scampered home to give the Pirates a 3-2 lead.
The Astros attacked Correia in the second inning with a barrage of singles -- four in total -- to grab a 2-0 lead.
The damage would have been worse had Correia not been dealt a break with one out in the inning. Keuchel tried to squeeze home J.D. Martinez, but his bunt was hit too hard, landing in Correia's glove with Martinez stuck between third and home. Correia threw to Alvarez, who tagged Martinez as he dove back to third base.
Correia got Schafer to fly out to centerfield to end the inning.
Michael Sanserino: email@example.com, 412-263-1722 or on Twitter @msanserino.