Final

Series: Game 1 of 4

Pittsburgh leads 1-0 (as of 7/2)

Game 1: Monday, July 2
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Pittsburgh11
Game 2: Tuesday, July 3
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Pittsburgh8
Game 3: Wednesday, July 4
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Pittsburgh6
Game 4: Thursday, July 5
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Pittsburgh2

Astros 2

(32-48, 9-29 away)

Pirates 11

(43-36, 24-13 home)

Coverage:  ROOT

7:05 PM ET, July 2, 2012

PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 

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W: J. McDonald (8-3)

L: J. Lyles (2-5)

Back-to-back homers by Garrett Jones, Neil Walker lift Pirates

Associated Press

PITTSBURGH -- Garrett Jones, Neil Walker and the Pittsburgh Pirates dinged up the Houston Astros.

Jones and Walker hit back-to-back homers off the right-field foul pole, leading James McDonald and the Pirates over Houston 11-2 on Monday night.

"It was cool to see Walker do it right after me," Jones said.

Astros starter Jordan Lyles did not allow a hit and struck out four the first time through the Pirates' order. But the first Pittsburgh batters of the fourth inning got hits, highlighted by Jones' two-run homer and Walker's solo shot.

Each clanged off the right-field foul pole, Jones' on a line drive and Walker's a high fly. According to STATS LLC., there have not been back-to-back home runs off the foul pole since at least 2000, which is the first season foul-pole home runs were tracked.

Jones finished the game with four hits and four RBIs, and Andrew McCutchen also had four hits for the Pirates, whose 16-5 home record since May 12 is the best in the majors.

McCutchen was playing for the first time since spraining his wrist diving for a ball Saturday in St. Louis. A day after being named to the NL All-star team, fans chanted "M-V-P" during his final at-bat.

"When we go out the first few innings and don't put some runs on the board, we know it's OK because we know it's just a matter of time before things start to click for us," McCutchen said. "It's the way things are starting to seem. We're starting to get that confidence in each other, starting to get that belief."

The Pirates have homered in a season high 10 straight games and have 52 runs over their past six games. It took them their first 22 games to score their 50th run of the season.

"Our lineup is amazing right now," McDonald said. "It's like every guy is a tough out. Nobody is an easy out in our lineup right now."

McDonald (8-3) recovered from walking three batters in the first inning -- as many as he has in any full game this season -- to pitch seven effective innings.

"Happy the way I recovered," McDonald said. "I think that's the big difference between last year and this year. I would have let things start to spiral. This year, I'm better at recovering and picking myself back up and getting to it."

McDonald's 2.45 ERA is down from 4.21 in 2011. He has a 1.73 ERA at home for Pittsburgh, which won for the fifth time in six games.

Scott Moore homered and J.D. Martinez had two hits for Houston, which has lost five consecutive and seven in a row on the road.

McDonald won for the eighth time in his past 10 decisions, improving to 4-1 at home despite a season-high five walks. He was charged with two runs on four hits with four strikeouts.

The Pirates hit consecutive home runs for the fifth time this season and third in the past five games. Jones' homer was his 11th of the season and fourth in his past 11 games.

Jones added an RBI double in the fifth and an RBI infield single in the sixth off of Fernando Abad -- Jones' first hit against a left-hander in a span of 25 at-bats dating to August of last season.

Walker's home run was his fourth of the season.

Casey McGehee followed Walker's homer with a double to right -- one of three hits for McGehee -- and Clint Barmes drove him in with a single to make it 4-1.

The next inning went much the same way for Lyles (2-5). Drew Sutton led off with a triple and McCutchen drove him in with a double and scored on Jones' double. Two batters later, McGehee's two-run double scored Jones and Walker.

"This is going to wear on me for a day or so then in a couple of days I'm going to forget it," Lyles said. "The positive thing is I threw the pitches I wanted to throw. They felt good out of my hand, they felt right but they hit them. They were the better team tonight."

Houston took advantage of three McDonald walks in the first, taking a 1-0 lead when J.D. Martinez drove in Jose Altuve with a single.

Moore hit his first home run since being promoted from Triple-A last week in the sixth.

The Astros have scored eight runs in their past six games.

"It's hard to put a finger on," catcher Jason Castro said of the road woes. "I don't think we do anything differently on the road than we do at home. There is nothing I can think of, nothing anybody in this clubhouse has brought up that we might be able to change."

Game notes


C Rod Barajas was a late scratch for Pittsburgh. He has played only once in the past week since sustaining a left knee bone bruise. ... Pittsburgh 3B Pedro Alvarez did not play a day after leaving a game in St. Louis with leg cramps. Manager Clint Hurdle said he was available to pinch hit. ... ... Astros 1B Carlos Lee politely declined to speak to reporters the day after the Dodgers reportedly pulled out of a trade that would have acquired him when he stalled in giving his approval. ... RHP A.J. Burnett pitches for Pittsburgh on Tuesday night. He has won each of his past eight starts. The previous outing he did not win was a no-decision May 13 at home against Houston in which Pittsburgh won in 12 innings.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Game Information

StadiumPNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
Attendance21,041 (54.8% full) - % is based on regular season capacity
Game Time2:49
Weather90 degrees, partly cloudy
Wind8 mph
UmpiresHome Plate - Greg Gibson, First Base - Gerry Davis, Second Base - Phil Cuzzi, Third Base - Manny Gonzalez

Research Notes

The Pirates hit back-to-back home runs tonight, from Garrett Jones and Neil Walker. Back-to-back homers have been a trend for the Pirates lately - this is the 3rd time in their last 5 games they've hit back-to-back HR. Interestingly, all six of those home runs were hit by different people.

ESPN Stats & Information