The Pirates finally put a solid game together and blew out the Astros, winning their final NL game at Minute Maid Park by a score of 8-1. They’ll be back eventually, but only once every couple of years for interleague play.
A.J. Burnett was brilliant, pitching one of his best games of the season. He went eight strong innings, allowed four hits and one run (a solo shot), and struck out a season-high 11. It was Burnett’s first win in over a month and his 16th victory of the season – the most by a Pirate since Zane Smith and John Smiley in 1991.
The Pirates started out slow against Houston starter Jordan Lyles, but just as they did in their previous games against him, they broke out eventually. Alex Presley and Josh Harrison started off the fifth with singles, and Andrew McCutchen walked to load the bases. Pinch hitter Gaby Sanchez was HBP for a run, and after Pedro Alvarez struck out, Jose Tabata drew an RBI walk. Clint Barmes and Rod Barajas then both singled in runs to break the game open.
The Pirates added on with a McCutchen RBI double, Alvarez RBI single, Tabata RBI single, and a Burnett RBI single in the late innings. Burnett continued to keep the game well under control on the mound while the Bucs pounded out hits – 18 in all.
This was a long overdue effort by the Pirates, who finally did what teams are supposed to do against the Astros. Their chances at .500 still don’t look too good and the wild card is a virtual impossibility at this point, but it was nice to see them finally play well again. 75 wins is also their most since 2003, not that anyone’s feeling too great about that accomplishment.
Pirates 8, Astros 1 / Box / 2012 Record: 75-77 / Next: Monday, at Mets, 7:10
MVP: Burnett (+.158) / LVP: Alvarez (-.109) / Key play: Harrison’s single in the 5th