Wandy Rodriguez somehow pitched a quality start despite struggling with his control, and the Pirates knocked off the Astros 4-3 Saturday to win their fourth game in a row.
Rodriguez struck out five and walked five over six innings, a strange stat line given that his season before Saturday had been characterized by fewer strikeouts and fewer walks. I wondered if he might have been a little bit amped up, trying to impress his new employer or his old one, because he was throwing 91-92 in the first inning, harder than usual. It was fun to see him strike out J.D. Martinez with a ridiculous curveball in the first.
By that point, the Pirates were already up 1-0, because Alex Presley had hit a solo shot in the first; it was Presley's second consecutive game with a home run to right. Garrett Jones then tripled with two outs when Justin Maxwell slipped on the hill in center, but Jones got stranded.
The Astros tied the score in the bottom of the second when Rodriguez led off by walking Justin Maxwell and Ben Francisco, and Carlos Corporan smacked a Rodriguez fastball to left to bring home a run.
The Pirates took a 2-1 lead in the fourth when Neil Walker crushed an upper-deck homer to right, but the Astros went up 3-2 in the bottom of the fifth when Maxwell hit a curveball to the wall in right. Presley just missed it, and it just missed going to the wall. Two runs scored, and Maxwell ended up with a triple. The Pirates tied it in the sixth, though, on a passed ball by Corporan after what appeared to be a miscommunication between Corporan and Wesley Wright. (The Bucs got some help earlier in that inning on a funny play -- Andrew McCutchen singled, and then Jones hit a grounder to first. Matt Downs threw to second, but hit McCutchen in the back of the head, and everyone was safe. McCutchen, clearly amused, made the world's quickest Zoltan sign in the direction of the dugout.)
Chris Resop took over for Rodriguez and pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the seventh. In the eighth, Chuckie Fick allowed a walk to Andrew McCutchen and a single to Garrett Jones, and Rod Barajas then hit a line-drive single off Fernando Rodriguez to score a run. (Seriously -- "Chuckie Fick"? "Fernando Rodriguez"? "Xavier Cedeno"? The Astros relievers' names are like the names that the computer makes up in franchise mode on your PlayStation, where it's just recycling names of forgotten role players.) Jones made a poor decision to go to third and got gunned down to end the inning, but the Pirates were up 4-3. Brad Lincoln and Jason Grilli pitched scoreless innings (with Grilli getting the save) and that's where it would stay.