Richard Hidalgo hit a three-run double just out of the reach of
right fielder Rob Mackowiak with two outs in the ninth, and the
Astros came back to beat the Pirates for the 10th straight time,
6-3 Tuesday night.
Jose Vizcaino also drove in three runs for Houston as the
Pirates lost for the 10th time in 11 games overall and remained
winless against the Astros since July 16. They lost their final
four against them last season and are 0-6 this season.
Houston's Jimy Williams got his 800th victory, the 61st major
league manager and the eighth active manager to do so.
"It means I'm still breathing," he said.
Mike Williams (0-2) got the first two batters in the ninth, but
Jeff Bagwell walked on a 3-2 pitch _ the Pirates thought it was
strike three _ and Jeff Kent singled to right. Lance Berkman walked
to load the bases before Hidalgo hit a drive to the base of the
auxiliary scoreboard in right on a 2-2 pitch.
Mackowiak, who entered the game in a double switch to start the
inning, leaped for the ball but couldn't make the catch as all
three runners scored.
"As soon as I hit it, I thought, 'Is he going to catch the
ball?'" said Hidalgo, who has 21 RBIs since April 16. ``When he
jumped, I said, 'Oh, no, no, no.'"
A fraction of a second later, Mackowiak was saying the same
"The ball kind of took off on me at the end, I'm not sure if it
hit my glove or not," Mackowiak said. "I don't know what happened
after I hit the wall. I gave it my best try ... but it seems like
everything we're doing now goes wrong. If we're winning, I probably
come up with that ball."
The Pirates lost a similar game 4-3 to the Giants April 23 when
Mackowiak, who also had just entered the game, couldn't make the
catch on a three-run homer by Jose Cruz Jr. that bounced off the
top of the left field wall and into the stands.
Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon didn't blame Mackowiak and also
wasn't unhappy that Williams pitched around Berkman, who has 17
RBIs this month, to face Hidalgo. Hidalgo was 0-for-6 with two
strikeouts against Williams.
"We had the matchup we wanted there,'' McClendon said. "It
just didn't turn out the way we wanted. You'd rather face Hidalgo
Pete Munro (3-1) pitched a scoreless eighth for the victory, the
14th by an Astros bullpen that contributed three scoreless innings.
Billy Wagner threw a perfect ninth for his ninth save in 10
The Astros, who have a 57-17 scoring edge in the eighth and
ninth innings this season, won their 10th in 12 games despite
trailing 2-0 and 3-1.
"We've got a good offense here, and we keep it together in the
seventh, eighth and ninth," Hidalgo said.
Pirates starter Jeff Suppan, trying to end a three-game losing
streak, helped give himself a 3-1 lead with two key hits. He
singled and scored on Brian Giles' infield single in a two-run
third, the fourth consecutive single off Astros starter Tim
Kenny Lofton also scored on Giles' single as Redding mishandled
the throw from first baseman Bagwell, drawing an error.
Suppan, who is hitting .294, also singled in the fourth and came
home on Lofton's single. Lofton's two hits extended his hitting
streak to 13 games, the longest by a Pirates player since John
Vander Wal's 16-game streak in 2000.
Vizcaino tied it at 3 with his third straight hit, a two-run
double in the sixth that followed Kent's leadoff walk and Berkman's
single. Vizcaino, 9-for-10 (.900) against Suppan, also had a
run-scoring single in the fourth after Kent doubled with one out.
The Pirates put two on with two outs in the eighth, but Munro
got pinch-hitter Matt Stairs to pop up.
Playing conditions (partly cloudy skies, temperatures in
the high 50s) were much better than Monday night's rain, wind and
cold. ... Redding, who gave up eight hits and three runs in six
innings, failed to win for the first time in four starts. ... Craig
Biggio went 0-for-5 to end his 10-game hitting streak. ... The
Pirates are a season-low nine games below .500 (15-24) after losing
their 15th in 20 games overall and their ninth in 10 home games.
They have been outscored 48-24 at home during those 10 games. ...
Lofton is 21-for-54 (.389) during his hitting streak. He had a
17-game streak with Cleveland in 1994.