Lack of run support foils Lincoln
Catcher Ryan Doumit tags out the Astros' Jimmy Paredes at the plate to help the Pirates get out of the eighth inning.
Pirates starter Brad Lincoln delivers against the Astros.
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The Pirates were undone Tuesday night by a dominant pitching performance by a Houston Astros pitcher with double-digit losses.
Thirteen-game loser Brett Myers stymied the Pirates, posting one of his best outings this season as the Astros beat the Pirates, 4-1, at PNC Park.
"He's a better pitcher than his win-loss record," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
Myers (4-13) allowed one earned run on four hits in 7 2/3 innings. He did not walk a batter and struck out six.
Last Wednesday, it was 15-game loser J.A. Happ who cruised against the Pirates lineup, pitching seven scoreless innings in a 2-0 Houston victory. Happ is scheduled to pitch again tonight against the Pirates.
Game: Pirates vs. Astros, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park.
TV, radio: Root Sports, WPGB-FM (104.7).
Pitching: LHP Brian Burres (1-0, 1.69) vs. LHP J.A. Happ (5-15, 5.71).
Key matchup: Astros vs. left-handed pitching. Houston is second in the National League with a .269 batting average against left-handed pitchers.
Hidden stat: Derrek Lee, the Pirates' most veteran player, has one career at-bat vs. Happ. Andrew McCutchen has 19.
Myers used a healthy mix of cut fastballs, curveballs and sliders, and, when he wasn't throwing his pitches for strikes, he usually had batters chasing them.
"I think that's what you're going to get with Brett Myers," Chase d'Arnaud said. "He gives you a steady dose of his cutter, slider and curveball. It's best to just sit outer half with him and not budge."
But the Pirates were more aggressive, often swinging at pitches early in the count. That allowed Myers to keep his pitch count low. He threw 92 pitches, 65 for strikes.
The win broke a career high seven-game losing streak for Myers, who skipped his previous scheduled start after his wife gave birth to their fourth child.
Pirates starter Brad Lincoln (1-2) added another solid performance to a recent stretch of strong outings. He lasted six innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits. His six strikeouts tied a career high, set June 30, 2010, in a 2-0 victory against the Chicago Cubs.
"You see more confidence on the mound, if nothing else," Hurdle said.
"Very aggressive. It's right after the bat -- he's not pitching away from the bat."
Lincoln's aggressiveness allowed him to work ahead in the count most of the night.
"If you get ahead, you can work the corners and use the off-speed [pitches], and that's what I was able to do," Lincoln said.
But he was hurt by a lack of run support and took his second consecutive loss.
Lincoln had issues with the middle of the Astros lineup, particularly in the second.
He allowed singles to Carlos Lee and Brian Bogusevic to start the inning.
And inattentiveness on the mound allowed Lee -- who weighs 265 pounds -- to steal his first base since May 21 and his third this season. Lee scored when Jimmy Paredes hit into a forceout, giving the Astros a 1-0 lead.
Humberto Quintero doubled with two outs to score Paredes from first and pad Houston's lead.
Lincoln retired Houston's 1-3 hitters three times each, but allowed four of the Astros' five hits to the 4-7 batters.
"Seems when I do give up runs, they're in little bunches out there," said Lincoln, who also gave up all three of his earned runs in one inning in his previous start.
The Pirates had a chance to tie the score in the second.
Ryan Doumit hit a solo home run with two outs, cranking a hanging curveball 10 rows deep in right-center.
But it was nearly a two-run blast. Neil Walker, who hit a one-out single, was caught stealing one pitch before Doumit connected with the 75 mph breaking ball.
Garrett Jones, the Pirates No. 2 hitter, led off the fourth with a double. But the middle of the lineup could not drive the tying run home.
Andrew McCutchen grounded out to third, Derrek Lee struck out looking and Walker hit a dribbler to Myers.
The Astros nearly added to their lead in the seventh against Pirates reliever Chris Resop.
Paredes led off with a single, and Clint Barmes followed with another. Paredes took third when Quintero hit into a forceout.
With Myers at the plate, the Astros tried a squeeze play to score Paredes. Myers' bunt was not good, but the Pirates defense was.
Resop lunged for the ball and threw underhanded to Doumit at the plate. Doumit scooped the ball and tagged Paredes to keep the score 2-1.
The Astros added some insurance in the ninth when Quintero hit a two-run single against reliever Jose Veras.
First Published September 7, 2011 12:00 am