Unlikely sources help Astros beat Pirates, erase losing skid
The Astros' Edwin Maysonet warms up in the on deck circle before batting in the ninth inning against the Pirates. Maysonet drove in four runs in the Astros 6-1 win over the Pirates yesterday.
Houston's Miguel Tejada, right, is tagged out by second baseman Freddy Sanchez in the third inning of yesterday's baseball game.
Ross Ohlendorf, right, wipes his head as he talks with catcher Jason Jaramillo after the Astros scored their first run in the second inning of yesterday's baseball game.
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Pirates manager John Russell was being facetious, of course. It's just that nobody could hold down Houston's No. 8 hitter, Edwin Maysonet, last night at PNC Park, a pretty neat trick for a seven-year minor leaguer with nary an extra-base hit in his previous dozen major league games and with almost as many RBIs in the previous six weeks in Class AAA.
All this 27-year-old kid did, in his third major league start, was collect a bunch of big-league inaugurals in a 6-1 pasting of the Pirates: first homer, first double (followed by another), first 4 for 4, first four-RBI game.
And if Maysonet was a young Babe, who was Brian Moehler?
An old Cy Young?
• Game: Houston Astros vs. Pirates, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park.
• TV, radio: FSN Pittsburgh, WPGB-FM (104.7).
• Pitching: LHP Wandy Rodriguez (5-3, 1.71) vs. RHP Jeff Karstens (1-2, 5.19).
• Key matchup: The Pirates' lineup vs. Rodriguez, who has broke out at age 30 to lead the National League in ERA, put up eight quality starts and holds opponents to a .232 average.
• Of note: Tonight is the first of three SkyBlast events after the game, featuring the country act, Zac Brown Band.
All Moehler, 37, did was collect his first complete-game victory since 2000, his longest stint against the Pirates since a different century (20th) and a different venue (Three Rivers Stadium), his most torturous performance since the previous time he faced these Pirates -- April 13, when he tortured Astros fans' eyes with a five-run outing that ended in the third inning and placed him on the disabled list with a knee injury hours later.
And that was how the Astros ended their seven-game losing streak and extended the Pirates' skids to three in a row and six of their past eight.
But it wasn't all Cy ... er, Moehler.
"We had some pitches to hit, we didn't hit them," Russell said. "Fouled them off or popped them up.
"It's happened to us too many times this year. We can't get anything going offensively. It's one of the things we've addressed, we've talked about with these guys. We have games like this, we have to find a way to create something earlier in the game so we're not playing catch-up."
Adam LaRoche was the sole Pirates hitter to show much pop off Moehler (2-3), who started the game with a 4.79 ERA for his career, an 8.31 ERA for the season and a 19.29 ERA in his previous, short-lived start against the Pirates this spring.
This time, Moehler allowed no base-runners to reach second until the sixth . None reached third until the eighth. Neither scoring. He did not walk a batter until the eighth and ninth, the latter (Adam LaRoche) scoring the only run against him.
And Adam LaRoche also drove a second-inning Moehler offering high off the Clemente Wall in right for a single. He clouted a 3-2 pitch to the center-field wall by the bullpen, where Houston's Michael Bourn leaped to rob him of extra bases. He added another fly ball to the center-field warning track in the seventh. Other than that, no Pirates batter could do much against Moehler, who took a 76-94 career record and 1-3 season mark to the mound last night.
"I think it's safe to say we had our pitches to hit and hit them at guys," said Adam LaRoche, who reached third on brother Andy's double and scored on Jason Jaromillo's grounder as the Pirates finished 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position contrasted to Houston's 6-for-10 start. "Hit into double plays or a few groundouts.
"Should we have done a lot more than we did? Yeah."
Ever the courteous hosts, the Pirates gave Houston its first run amid a rundown in the second. With the Astros' Maysonet on second after a double that was his first major league extra-base hit, Bourn singled him to third. But Bourn got caught in a rundown, allowing Maysonet to cross home plate for a 1-0 lead.
The Pirates had lost 18 of 22 this season when the opposition scored first.
Houston padded that lead to 3-0 when Maysonet knocked a two-run homer to left in the fourth.
"He only had seven at-bats. We didn't have much of a report on him," Ross Ohlendorf (5-5) said. "The first hit, he hit a ground ball in the right spot. The home run? First pitch, fastball in. It was what he wanted."
This from an infielder with 36 homers total in seven minor league seasons and, before last night, a .176 career average and three hits in the majors.
Last night, however, he delivered a double, a homer, a two-run double in the sixth to give Houston a 5-0 lead, and a single -- making him the biggest producer in a 16-hit barrage for a lineup that includes Miguel Tejada, Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee and Hunter Pence.
"The eight-hole hitter ... " Russell began of Maysonet. "He kind of hurt us all night."
"We had some pitches to hit, we didn't hit them. Fouled them off or popped them up."
-- John Russell, Pirates manager
First Published May 30, 2009 12:00 am