The Pirates bullpen continued to struggle as the Pirates suffered their fifth loss in the last six games. Reliever Chris Leroux failed to record an out as the Astros erupted for six runs on seven hits in a big sixth inning rally.
The Pirates starter, Charlie Morton (9-8), pitched a phenomenal five innings until running into some trouble in the sixth and suffered his third straight loss.
Behind the stellar hitting day for the Astros’ J.D. Martinez and Jose Altuve, Henry Sosa (2-2) recorded his second career win, only allowing two hits and one run in six innings.
The Pirates jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the third inning with Ronny Cedeno drawing a walk to lead off. After a Mike McKenry strikeout and a Morton sacrifice bunt to move Cedeno over to second, Alex Presley recorded the Pirates’ first hit of the game with a single to center field to score Cedeno.
After struggling at the plate for the first four innings, the Astros scored their first run of the game off Morton in the fifth inning when Jose Altuve homered to deep left field. Morton managed to escape the fifth but began to falter in the next inning.
Astros’ third baseman, Jimmy Paredes, singled to right to start off the sixth and got a free pass to second when Morton balked with Clint Barmes at the plate. Morton recorded his only out of the inning when Barmes grounded out to third. The Pirates decided to intentionally walk catcher, Carlos Corporan, to get to the pitcher, Henry Sosa. However, the Astros pinch hit Matt Downs and the rally started.
Downs had the first of five straight Astros’ singles, recording his league-leading 12th pinch-hit RBI, scoring Paredes and chasing Morton from the mound with the Pirates trailing 2-1. Reliever Chris Leroux faced four batters and surrendered four straight hits, each scoring a run for the Astros. Altuve added another RBI with a single, J.D. Martinez drove in two runs with a single, and Carlos Lee also had an RBI single in the inning.
Leroux was relieved by Daniel McCutchen in the sixth. McCutchen got Astros outfielder Brian Bogusevic to line out to third and then surrendered the seventh hit of the inning to Paredes, a double deep to left field, scoring Martinez. Barmes flied out to left to end the inning.
Martinez recorded his third RBI of the game in the seventh inning with an infield single to put the Astros up 8-1.
The Pirates scored their second run of the game in ninth inning. After pinch hitter Chase d’Arnaud grounded out and Neil Walker recorded his third strike-out of the night, Andrew McCutchen homered to right field off of Brett Myers. The home-run was McCutchen’s 20th of the season, as he became only the eighth player in team history to hit 20 homers and steal 20 bases in the same season.
The Astros, 5-9 against the Pirates this season, look for the three-game sweep Wednesday night. James McDonald (8-7, 4.22 ERA) will take on J.A. Happ (4-15, 6.03 ERA) at 8:05.