Rodriguez, acquired earlier this week from the Astros, got the start against his former team and while he was somewhat shaky, he allowed the Pirates to have a chance to win the game, which they did by a 4-3 score.
The Pirates had a quick start as the second batter of the game, Alex Presley, connected on a solo homer, his eighth of the season. Presley has now hit a homerun in two consecutive games.
The Astros tied the game when catcher Carlos Corporan hit a single which scored Justin Maxwell from third. Despite early wildness and a total of five walks in his outing, Rodriguez was able to escape further damage.
The Pirates were able to retake the lead in the top of the fourth inning when Neil Walker connected for his 10th homer of the season, also a solo shot.
The Astros took a 3-2 lead, however, in the bottom of the fifth inning. Jose Altuve had an infield single and Matt Down had a single of his own to start the inning. The next batter, Chris Johnson, had a fly out to advance Altuve to third base. Two batters later, Maxwell hit a towering fly ball to right. Presley tried to make a leaping catch but was unable to get the ball. The ball did not reach the seats, but Maxwell was able to plate both runs on his triple.
The top of the sixth saw a similar start for the Pirates as a McCutchen single and a Downs error on Garrett Jones ground ball put runners on first and second. Walker was then hit by a pitch on an 0-2 count.
Just when the Pirates appeared poised for a big inning, Pedro Alvarez hit a chopper that was corralled by catcher Corporan, who tagged home and then threw to first base to double up a confused Alvarez.
This seemed to end the Pirates threat, but Corporan had a passed ball, allowing Jones to score and deadlock the game at 3-3.
The scoring did not continue until the top of the eighth inning. Following a scoreless frame from Pirates reliever Chris Resop, McCutchen walked and Jones’ singled to put runners on the corners, forcing Astros manager Brad Mills to take reliever Chuckie Fick out of the game and put Fernando Rodriguez in his place.
The move temporarily worked as Neil Walker popped out to shortstop Brian Bixler. After Alvarez looked at strike three, Rod Barajas then came up and hit a single to score McCutchen, although Jones was thrown out trying to advance to third. Still, the Pirates had the 4-3 lead entering the bottom half of the inning.
Brad Lincoln then entered the game and despite a single and stolen base, was able to keep Houston off of the scoreboard.
The Pirates were held scoreless in the top of the ninth and with Joel Hanrahan resting following three consecutive appearances, Jason Grilli came in to close the game.
Grilli started the inning with a strikeout of Altuve and used his glove to get the second out. He struck out Johnson looking to capture his second save of the season while Resop picked up his first W. The Pirates improved their record to 58-42.
The Pirates will finish their four game series against the Astros on Sunday. James McDonald (10-4, 3.15 ERA) will face Lucas Harrell (7-7, 4.07 ERA). As a team, the Pirates have a .391 average against Harrell with a homer and three RBI.