HOUSTON - JULY 17: Center fielder Andrew McCutchen #22 of the Pittsburgh Pirates makes a sliding catch on a fly ball off the bat of Clint Barmes #12 of the Houston Astros in the eighth inning at Minute Maid Park on July 17, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
The Bucs pulled out a 7-5 win in 11 innings to take two out of three from the Astros on Sunday. The 'Stros picked up one in the first on an RBI single by Hunter Pence, but Kevin Correia came through in a big way with two on in the second, driving a ball to left. That ordinarily would've plated only one, but fortunately, Carlos Lee can't play defense, and let the ball get by him. 2-1 Pirates.
The Astros retook the lead in the third on a very weird at-bat by Jeff Keppinger with one on. The count went to 3-0, and then Correia threw a ball low that was called a strike. It appeared that someone on the Astros' bench said something about it. Correia's next pitch was also low, but umpire Eric Cooper paused before calling strike two, obviously sticking it to the Astros. The bench protested again, and Cooper immediately tossed out manager Brad Mills. Keppinger then hit a two-run homer, which Mills must have watched with glee from the clubhouse.
The Pirates tied the game in the fourth and took the lead in the sixth on a pair of RBIs by Alex Presley, who went 3-for-6 on the day. Andrew McCutchen's fantastic catch in shallow center in the seventh stymied an Astros rally. But Chris Johnson's double in the bottom of the eighth tied the game for the Astros, as Joel Hanrahan finally blew a save.
The Bucs went ahead in the 11th on a passed ball by Humberto Quintero, then added insurance runs on an RBI single by Presley and an error by Aneury Rodriguez. (There was a scary moment on that last play, as Andrew McCutchen ran into Lee, now leaping in the air while playing first - Lee is about twice McCutchen's size, but McCutchen was able to brace himself a bit and wasn't hurt.) Quintero hit a solo homer off Chris Resop in the bottom of the 11th, but that was all the Astros got.
Wandy Rodriguez got 11 strikeouts this afternoon, and the Astros' relievers added five. It wasn't a particularly good day for Pirates hitters in terms of swinging at pitches out of the zone - in fact, I can remember at least three occasions in which there was a throw down to first on a strikeout. But they got the job done when it mattered. Which is great, because they're about to enter a very tough run in their schedule and need every win they can get right now.