Pirates Beat Astros Again, Now In Sole Possession Of First Place

PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 4: Casey McGehee #14 of the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrates after scoring on a sacrifice fly by Michael McKenry #55 (not pictured) against the Houston Astros during the game on July 4, 2012 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

A sold-out crowd at PNC watched the Pirates move into sole possession of first place. This wasn't the bashfest that a lot of recent Pirates games have been, but the Bucs got timely hitting and several good defensive plays, and ended up winning 6-4.

The Astros got two runs off Kevin Correia in the second, but the Pirates quickly got to the mediocre Dallas Keuchel, loading the bases with the first three batters of the bottom of the inning. Michael McKenry then hit a sacrifice fly. Clint Barmes singled home a run, then got in a rundown on the way to second. The Astros didn't stop Pedro Alvarez from coming home, as the Pirates went up 3-2.

The Bucs added another run in the fourth when Garrett Jones (who handled himself pretty well against left-handed pitching today) singled, Pedro Alvarez walked, and McKenry doubled.

The Astros got one back in the fifth when Correia walked Brian Bogusevic to lead off the inning, and Bogusevic came home on a groundout.

Brad Lincoln came on in the seventh and allowed singles by Bogusevic and Jose Altuve, but Neil Walker made a great play to keep the Altuve single from going into the outfield, and the Astros couldn't score.

Walker and Andrew McCutchen singled to start the bottom of the seventh, and Jones reached on an error to load the bases. Pedro Alvarez then singled up the middle to put the Pirates up 6-3.

That left the game to Jason Grilli and Joel Hanrahan. Grilli got through a perfect inning with the help of Gorkys Hernandez, who showed his defensive chops by making a spectacular running catch near the foul line in left. J.D. Martinez bashed a home run off Hanrahan to lead off the ninth, but Hanrahan went 1-2-3 after that to finish the game with a score of 6-4.

Until tonight, at least, the Pirates are all alone in first place, and it's the Reds who will need to play catch-up. They play the Dodgers at 9:10.

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