Andrew McCutchen looked like Andrew McCutchen again.
After a horrid August, McCutchen had a torrid night, going 4 for 4 with three RBIs to help the Pirates break a four-game slump and beat the Houston Astros, 6-2, Tuesday night at PNC Park.
Not to be outdone, infielder Brock Holt, who one month ago was playing in Class AA, went 4 for 5 and scored two runs in his fourth major league game.
"They showed up big time for us," manager Clint Hurdle said. "You get 10 hits on the night and you've got two players with eight of them, you don't see that very often."
The offense helped underscore another strong start from Wandy Rodriguez, who pitched seven scoreless innings to earn his second consecutive victory. Rodriguez has not allowed a run in his past 13 innings, spanning his past two starts.
He struck out seven batters and allowed four hits Tuesday night.
"Wandy was the guy we needed to be on," Hurdle said. "And he was."
Rodriguez was effective mixing his fastball and changeup, and his ability to throw a timely breaking ball helped him put away his former team.
"This team is very special for me because I played for the Astros for a long time," Rodriguez said. "But, when the game gets started, I don't have any friends."
Rodriguez retired 16 of the final 17 batters he faced.
"This is what I saw a lot in the five years that I saw him -- the change in speeds, soft, hard," Hurdle said. "There's more there than you think."
McCutchen's four-hit game was his sixth this season and first since July 2. He did not have any four-hit games in 2011.
His strong night boosted his batting average to .347, allowing him to overtake San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera, suspended for the remainder of the regular season after testing positive for a banned substance, for best in the major leagues.
It was the first time he had more than two hits in a game since July 31, before the start of a month that saw the center fielder hit a season-worst .252. But he sparked the Pirates (71-64) with his second-highest RBI game of the second half.
"It definitely feels good to be able to produce, go out and have a good game," McCutchen said. "Work in progress. It's all about getting that feeling back. It felt pretty good tonight."
Two of McCutchen's RBI hits came with two outs, adding to his impressive performance.
"The ability to drive in runs in three straight at-bats helped us get some separation early," Hurdle said.
But his night would not have been as fruitful without Holt, who scored on two of McCutchen's hits and is hitting .462 since being recalled Saturday.
Holt took leaps forward this season, which paved a path to the majors. He said it would not be possible without the motivation from naysayers who said he is too small to make it.
"I've had to prove myself every step of the way," he said.
Jordan Lyles took the loss for the Astros (42-94), his second in three starts against the Pirates. He allowed five runs, four earned, on seven hits in 42/3 innings. In those three starts, Lyles has an ERA of 9.20.
The Pirates first scored in the first inning, but it came at a price. Outfielder Travis Snider appeared to aggravate a hamstring injury while scoring the run.
Snider reached first after grounding into a fielder's choice with no outs in the first inning. Andrew McCutchen doubled down the left-field line, with the ball bouncing off the side wall and ricocheting back into left field.
The hit gave the Pirates a 1-0 lead, but Snider left the game.
Snider grimaced as he ran around the bases and gingerly walked from home plate to the dugout, where he tossed his helmet to the ground. He left the game with "right hamstring discomfort," according to the Pirates, and was replaced by Jose Tabata to start the second.
Snider missed a few games last month with the same injury.
The start of the game was delayed one hour, 15 minutes by a thunderstorm that rolled through the area.pirates
Michael Sanserino: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1722 or on Twitter @msanserino. First Published September 5, 2012 4:30 AM