The Pirates snuck out a win in the ninth after a spectacular implosion by reliever Xavier Cedeno (yes, that's his name, Pirates fans) and the Astros, who gave up a single, two walks, a sacrifice fly and a wild pitch to give the Pirates a 6-5 lead.
The Astros scored one in the second on an RBI single by Ben Francisco, then another when Jordan Lyles bunted and Justin Maxwell ran around Michael McKenry's tag. The Astros went up 3-0 the next inning, when Jeff Karstens threw a breaking ball right down the middle and Chris Johnson hit it out.
At this point, I wasn't that concerned. I mean, the Pirates can spot this ragtag bunch three runs, right? The Bucs got one back in the fourth when Alex Presley smashed a fastball to right for a homer.
In the bottom of the inning, though, Francisco hit a line-drive home run that just made it into the Crawford Boxes -- a fan touched it, but it held up on review. 4-1, Astros.
In the fifth, Pedro Alvarez led off with a single, and Michael McKenry smashed a line-drive homer of his own, his ninth (!!!) bomb of the year. McKenry was also involved in the tying run in the seventh -- he doubled, then came home on Josh Harrison's sacrifice fly.
The Astros took back the lead in the bottom of the seventh when Johnson led off with a triple. He then came home on a single by J.D. Martinez that eluded Clint Barmes.
I still wasn't concerned. I know how bad baseball is played. And the Astros did not disappoint. With one out in the ninth, McKenry (there he is again!) singled off Rhiner Cruz. Then Cruz walked Drew Sutton and Casey McGehee.
And then, with one out and the bases loaded, the Astros called on Xavier Cedeno, a career minor-leaguer of no particular distinction who, Pirates fans will surely agree, just sounds like he belongs on a terrible baseball team. Cedeno gave up a sacrifice fly to Starling Marte (who'd gone 0-for-4 with two strikeouts to that point) to tie the game. Then Cedeno threw a wild pitch that caromed away from Chris Snyder, allowing Sutton to come home and putting the Pirates up 6-5. Rod Barajas popped out, but Joel Hanrahan struck out two batters in the bottom of the ninth to pick up the save.
The Pirates are now 15 games above .500, people.