PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) — It was a big day over at PNC Park Sunday as Ryan Doumit hit a three-run home run and the Pirates beat the Houston Astros 5-4 to improve to .500 this late in a season for the first time in years.
The last time the Bucs were .500 or better at this juncture in a season was May of 2002 when they were 18-17. With the big come-from-behind win today, the Pirates are now 17-17.
“We feel like .500 is good, but at the same time we know that we have better baseball to be played in this locker room,” said second baseman and Pittsburgh native Neil Walker. “This is a great thing for the city and we know we’re moving in the right direction, but I guess I understand it a little more than everybody else because I was 6-years-old in ’92.”
Doumit’s drive to left off Fernando Abad (1-3) was his third homer of the season and came in the eighth inning.
“[James McDonald] pitched too well today to get a loss or a no decision. The team played too well to get a loss,” said Doumit. “It was a big moment. It felt good, and you know, we’ve got a nice little rhythm going right now.”
Pirates starter James McDonald pitched six impressive innings and left with a 2-0 lead. He had a shutout going, but needed 96 pitches to get through his six innings.
Houston’s J.A. Happ pitched effectively enough out of trouble through six innings and was on the cusp of benefiting from a late-inning rally. He allowed 10 baserunners, but gave up only two runs.
Hunter Pence’s first-inning single extended his hitting streak to 12 games, but McDonald retired the next 12 batters and struck out eight overall. McDonald allowed three hits.
“Feeling more comfortable, I had a good breaking ball today, fast ball was pretty good. [I’ve got to] keep working to do the things that make me successful,” said McDonald.
Twice over the first four innings, the Pirates loaded the bases with less than two outs but each time scored only one run.
Steve Pearce hit a sacrifice fly with one out in the first. Brandon Wood struck out with three on and nobody out in the fourth. Ronny Cedeno followed with an RBI single, but McDonald hit into a double play to end the inning.
Reliever Chris Resop did not retire a batter and was charged with three runs in the seventh. The Astros added another run in the eighth before Doumit’s shot.
Chris Johnson homered on Resop’s third pitch, Bill Hall singled and Humberto Quintero followed with an RBI double. An infield hit by pinch-hitter Angel Sanchez put the Astros ahead.
Houston erased a deficit against the Pirates bullpen for the second time in the series. The Astros made it 4-2 on Brett Wallace’s sacrifice fly off Daniel McCutchen (1-0) in the eighth.
Joel Hanrahan closed, making him 10-for-10 in save opportunities.
Also, Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez did not start for the fourth consecutive game because of a strained right quad.
Up next, the Los Angeles Dodgers come to town for a four-game series starting Monday at 7:05 p.m.