Series: Game 3 of 4

Houston leads 3-0 (as of 5/18)

Game 1: Thursday, May 16
Pittsburgh 1Final
Houston 3
Game 2: Friday, May 17
Pittsburgh 4Final
Houston 7
Game 3: Saturday, May 18
Pittsburgh 1Final
Houston 2
Game 4: Sunday, May 19
Pittsburgh 5Final
Houston 3

Pirates 1

(19-22, 9-11 away)

Astros 2

(21-21, 13-8 home)

    8:05 PM ET, May 18, 2002

    Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas 

    123456789 R H E
    PIT 010000000 1 - -
    HOU 100000001 2 - -

    W: O. Dotel (2-1)

    L: S. Lowe (1-2)

    Vizcaino wins game with late home run

    HOUSTON -- Astros manager Jimy Williams expects a lot from Jose Vizcaino, and he's come through with clutch hits in two of the last three games.

    Jose Vizcaino

    Vizcaino hit a game-ending homer with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning to send Houston Astros to its seventh straight victory, 2-1 over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday night.

    "He's always prepared. We always get the best out of him every time he plays, his best at-bats, his best fielding, his best everything. He's the ultimate pro," Williams said.

    Vizcaino hit the first pitch he saw from Sean Lowe (1-2) over the right-field fence to extend Houston's longest winning streak in three seasons. The Astros won a team-record 12 in a row in September 1999.

    Vizcaino, who has started 12 games this season, hit a two-run single in the eighth inning Thursday night to put the Astros ahead.

    "I'm just happy every time Jimy gives me an opportunity to play. He uses the bench more than most guys, and we just try to do our job when we get in there," Vizcaino said.

    "It's not really that hard to come off the bench. I've been playing that way for four years and I'm always mentally prepared. This year I know that I am going to get to go out there once or twice a week and that helps a lot," he added.

    Vizcaino hit his first homer since June 15 and just his second since June 4, 1999.

    "I knew I put a good hit on it. I knew I hit it hard enough to go. I'm not a home run hitter but I can hit one occasionally," Vizcaino said.

    The Pirates lost their fourth straight and sixth in the last seven games. They also dropped to 2-10 in their last 12 games on the road.

    "It was just a first-pitch breaking ball, I was trying to get ahead in the count. I don't think it was up, but it was over the middle of the plate," Lowe said. "I didn't think he would hit a home run, but he took care of it. Bad things are going on for us."

    Octavio Dotel (2-1) pitched two hitless innings for the win.

    Tim Redding didn't figure in the decision but had his fourth straight quality start. He allowed one run and four hits in seven innings. He tied his career high with eight strikeouts and retired the last eight batters he faced.

    Kris Benson, the No. 1 player taken in the 1996 draft, also took a no-decision in his second start in 19 months. He allowed one run and six hits in seven innings.

    "My stuff was good and I came into the game feeling good. This was my best outing in almost two years. It's a big relief to know I can pitch well up here," Benson said.

    Jeff Bagwell drove in Houston's first run with a sacrifice fly in the first inning that scored Julio Lugo.

    Center fielder Lance Berkman made a crucial defensive play with a circus catch in the second inning. He ran up the steep incline of Tal's Hill in deep center field and caught a long fly by Armando Rios falling backward. The crowd cheered for nearly a minute and a half as replays showed the acrobatic catch. Later that inning, Jack Wilson's RBI single tied the score at 1.

    Game notes

    Houston's Orlando Merced left in the second inning after reaggravating his right hamstring running on a double, an injury he originally sustained May 8 at Philadelphia. He is day-to-day. He was replaced in right field by Richard Hidalgo. ... The Astros (21-21) are at .500 for the first time since they were 7-7 on April 17. ... The Pirates have had only nine walks in the last six games and their season total of 118 is the lowest in the NL. ... Pittsburgh is 2-15 at Astros Field. ... The Pirates placed OF Armando Rios on the 15-day disabled list with a bruised left knee and recalled INF Abraham Nunez from Triple-A Nashville.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press