Hurdle notches 600th victory
Andrew McCutchen celebrates with Alex Presley and Brandon Wood after his three-run homer.
Ryan Doumit is tagged out at home in the eighth inning by the Astros catcher Humberto Quintero. Still, the Pirates picked up the winning run on Jason Jaramillo's single.
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One player had his first winning RBI of the season. Another pitched 11/3 scoreless innings in his major league debut.
But it was the man who played in 515 games and has managed 1,302 more who went home with the game ball Wednesday night.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle earned his 600th career victory in a 5-4 win against the Astros at PNC Park.
"It was a nice game to win," Hurdle said. "I don't have many balls in my collection. The first one I got as a manager was my 500th. Jeff [Bannister] gave me this one. I'm keeping this one. This one has some meaning to it."
Jason Jaramillo hit an RBI single in the eighth inning to score Chase d'Arnaud and break a 4-4 tie. It was Jaramillo's second RBI this season, and it came with one out in the eighth off Astros pitcher Wilton Lopez (2-6).
"I was trying to get him up because he had thrown me two really good breaking balls, and then he threw a third one in the dirt," Jaramillo said. "I was telling myself to make sure I saw the ball up. It might have been a little higher than I thought he was going to come with it. I put a good swing on it. It worked out."
Hurdle said before the game he was not aware he was closing in on his 600th victory until someone recently told him.
"I'm humbled every day I get the opportunity to manage," Hurdle said. "I haven't kept track. ... It just means you've been fortunate to do it for a longer amount of time than a lot of other guys."
Hurdle is 18 wins shy of former Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants manager Danny Ozark, who is 100th all time with 618 career wins.
"I know I've got more losses than that," he said.
Hurdle was right. He has 702 career losses, the 88th most in major league history.
"If I'm looking at anything, I'm looking at closing the separation from wins and losses," Hurdle said. "That would be a focus point."
Tony Watson (2-2) earned the victory, retiring the only batter he faced on one pitch in the eighth. Joel Hanrahan picked up his 36th save this season.
Andrew McCutchen hit two home runs to help the Pirates (66-77) erase an early three-run deficit as they matched their largest comeback win this season.
Both of McCutchen's homers came on the first pitch of his at-bats.
"You want to be ready every single pitch," McCutchen said. "That was my thought process, just being ready. He threw me a couple fastballs, and I was able to hit them out."
His second, a three-run blast in the fifth, tied the score, 4-4.
It was McCutchen's fourth career multi-homer game and second this season.
The Pirates have homered in a season-high five consecutive games, but the Astros (48-95) pounded three homers of starter Brian Burres, including two in the first to grab an early, 3-0 lead.
"I had some command issues with all the pitches," Burres said. "I left some over the fat part of the plate, and they got hit pretty hard."
He lasted just 32/3 innings, allowing seven hits and four earned runs, all scoring on homers. He struck out two and tossed one wild pitch.
Burres pitched in place of Jeff Karstens, who skipped a second consecutive start because of fatigue. Burres was nowhere near as effective Wednesday as he was last week in his first start this season, when he allowed one earned run on five hits in 51/3 innings.
Likewise, Houston starter J.A. Happ was nowhere near as effective as he was in his outing last week against the Pirates.
He allowed four earned runs, also all on home runs, and five hits in five innings. Happ struck out eight, but the Pirates took him deep into at-bats, and he threw 120 pitches.
"He cut us up in Houston," Hurdle said. "There wasn't much of a fight on our part in Houston. For us to come back, he probably wasn't as sharp, but we didn't add to it. We didn't give him any breathing room. We didn't give him a safety net. We made him pitch.
"We got ahead in some counts, and, when he did make some mistakes over the plate, we put the barrel on it."
One week earlier, Happ allowed no earned runs on three hits in seven innings.
After Burres left in the fourth, the Pirates used a combination of five relievers to shut out the Astros over, 51/3 innings.
Right-handed reliever Jared Hughes made his major league debut in the fourth, allowing one hit in 11/3 innings after he was called up Tuesday by the Pirates.
First Published September 8, 2011 12:00 am