Pirates earn second sweep of Astros

Hero:Chris Duffy went 2-for-2 with two walks and scored two runs for the Pirates

Unsung Hero:Rodriguez, who picked up the loss despite allowing only five hits and striking out seven in seven innings.

Figure this: Adam Everett and Carlos Lee each left six men on base for the Astros.

-- ESPN.com news services

Pirates 5, Astros 3

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Phil Garner won a World Series playing for Pittsburgh and managed in the All-Star game there last summer. Right now, the Houston manager probably isn't excited about returning to the city where he has enjoyed some of his best moments in baseball.

Jason Bay's two-run single in the sixth inning off Wandy Rodriguez gave the Pirates a 5-3 victory Thursday over Houston and their second three-game sweep of the Astros this season.

Barely 12 hours after the Astros left 18 runners on base during a 4-3, 16-inning loss to the Pirates, they stranded 13 and played sloppily in the field with two errors during Pittsburgh's go-ahead sixth inning against Rodriguez (0-3). The Astros have lost six in a row, including a 3-0 defeat Tuesday in which they were limited to three singles, and went 3-6 during a four-city road trip.

"It's good to be going home," said Garner, whose team begins a six-game homestand Friday. "We just lost our offense. We had some good games but we also had some games we didn't appear to focused on."

Houston pushed across two runs in the ninth but John Grabow bailed out closer Salomon Torres by getting Adam Everett to ground into a forceout at second with the bases loaded to end the game. It was Grabow's first save since 2004.

The Pirates are 6-0 against the Astros this season after going 3-13 last season and have swept successive series for the first time since 1979 -- when Garner was the second baseman on Pittsburgh's World Series-winning team. The Pirates also swept a season-opening series in Houston from April 2-4.

"It was good to get the sweep, that's for sure," said manager Jim Tracy, whose Pirates are 10-10 after being 5-15 a year ago. "There has been some dramatic improvement, and I know there's more to come. I know we're a better offensive team than we've shown so far."

For a change, the two teams had a relatively normal game with no long rain delays or extra innings. Their four most recent meetings in PNC Park before Thursday included games lasting 16 and 15 innings and a 3 1/2-hour rain delay before an afternoon game in September. They also played an 18-inning game at PNC in May.

The Astros even lost a pitcher to injury when he wasn't pitching. Rick White went on the disabled list with a strained muscle in his left side that occurred while he was warming up Wednesday.

With both teams' bullpens depleted by Wednesday night's long game, Rodriguez gave the Houston staff a lift by limiting the Pirates to five hits over seven-plus innings, but took the loss despite being in trouble only once.

"Wandy pitched such a great game, it's a tough one to waste," Mark Loretta said. "We're a little funk right now driving in runs, Those things come in streaks, and hopefully we'll get home and get some confidence. It was a tough road trip with all the cities."

Jose Castillo, who entered the game during a double switch in the top of the sixth, singled and Chris Duffy drew one of two walks by Rodriguez. With one out, Freddy Sanchez reached as third baseman Mike Lamb -- possibly distracted by Castillo running toward third -- misplayed his grounder. Bay's opposite-field single scored Castillo and Duffy, with Sanchez moving to third on the play when right fielder Luke Scott mishandled the ball.

Jonah Bayliss (2-1) got the victory by pitching two scoreless but adventuresome innings, working out of a bases-loaded, none-out jam in the sixth by getting Rodriguez to ground into a double play. Garner might have hit for Rodriguez if his bullpen had been rested.

"Considering that we'd used everybody out of the bullpen for a bunch of innings the night before, and as well as he was pitching, I wanted to let him go," Garner said.

In the seventh, Carlos Lee grounded into an inning-ending double play with runners on first and second.

"We've been real streaky. We'd like to be a little more consistent with the wins," Loretta said. "But you have two options, keep grinding or quit and we're not going to quit."

The Pirates added three runs in the eighth when pinch-hitter Xavier Nady was hit by reliever Chad Qualls' pitch with the bases loaded and Ryan Doumit added a two-run single. Doumit played in Indianapolis on Wednesday night, then learned about 2 a.m. he would be flying to Pittsburgh to catch 10 hours later because of Humberto Cota's shoulder injury.

"I'm going on emotion right now," he said.

Game notes
Grabow missed most of spring training and the first three weeks of the season with a sore elbow before being activated Tuesday. ... The Astros finished 8-7 during a stretch that saw them play 13 of 15 games on the road. ... Astros 2B Craig Biggio sat out after having five hits in the first two games of the series. Loretta filled in and went 4-for-4 with a walk. ... Jose Bautista's 12-game hitting streak for Pittsburgh ended when he struck out twice.