PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 24: James McDonald #53 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the game on July 24, 2012 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Pirates Vs. Astros: James McDonald Wild In 9-5 Loss

Pirates starter James McDonald walked a season-high seven batters in five innings.

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Pirates Vs. Astros Recap: James McDonald Wild In 9-5 Loss

Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher James McDonald saw his second-half struggles continue, as he walked seven batters in five innings as the Pirates lost 9-5 to the lowly Houston Astros on Sunday. McDonald allowed five runs on six hits while striking out five.

Kevin Correia didn't fare much better in his bullpen debut, allowing four runs in two innings, including a three-run double to Marwin Gonzalez in the seventh inning that put the game away.

The Pirates took their only lead of the day briefly in the top of the fourth when Garrett Jones hit a mammouth two-run home run to put the Pirates up 2-1 in the fourth. The Astros then answered with five unanswered runs. Other offensive highlights included Pedro Alvarez going 2-for-3 while Starling Marte went 2-for-5.

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout. For more on the Astros, there's Crawfish Boxes. For all your Major League Baseball news and notes, visit the all new Baseball Nation.


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Astros Vs. Pirates Lineups: Andrew McCutchen Sits; Michael McKenry Plays

Here are the lineups for the final game of a four-game series between the Pirates and Astros at 2:05 p.m. on Sunday, as the Bucs go for the sweep.

Pirates:

Starling Marte CF
Alex Presley LF
Neil Walker 2B
Garrett Jones RF
Casey McGehee 1B
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Michael McKenry C
Jordy Mercer SS
James McDonald P

Andrew McCutchen gets a rare day off, and Starling Marte gets his first career start in center field. Michael McKenry, who has nine homers in 120 at-bats and a .907 OPS, gets another start. Bucs fans have been clamoring for him to get more paying time, instead of Rod Barajas, who gets the day off after starting a night game on Saturday. Jordy Mercer gets a rare start, taking the place of Clint Barmes at shortstop.

Astros:

Jose Altuve 2B
Marwin Gonzalez SS
Chris Johnson 3B
Scott Moore 1B
J.D. Martinez LF
Brian Bogusevic RF
Chris Snyder C
Jordan Schafer CF
Lucas Harrell P

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout. For more on the Astros, there's Crawfish Boxes.

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Pirates Vs. Astros Preview: James McDonald Tries To Lead Bucs To Sweep

The Pirates will look to complete a four-game sweep of the Houston Astros -- and to win their fifth game in a row -- at 2:05 p.m. Sunday, as James McDonald takes on Lucas Harrell.

The Cincinnati Reds have won nine games in a row, so the Pirates have made up no ground in the N.L. Central despite some very solid recent play. They'll at least have a good chance of keeping pace with the Reds on Sunday, though, as the Astros have lost 12 in a row.

McDonald has been the Pirates' ace this season, but right now, he's trying to get back on track, having given up two homers in each of his last two starts. The Astros' weak lineup could provide a perfect prescription. Harrell hasn't allowed more than one run in any of his last three starts, and he struck out nine Pirates in early July, but he also gave up five runs to the Bucs. And based on his long-term track record, he arguably wouldn't be in most big-league rotations.

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout. For more on the Astros, there's Crawfish Boxes.

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Pirates Vs. Astros: Pittsburgh Hands Houston 12th Straight Loss

The Pittsburgh Pirates topped the Houston Astros by a score of 4-3 on Saturday night, marking their third straight win over their N.L. Central foes. It was also Houston's 12th straight loss and 24th in their last 26 games.

The Pirates did, however, have to come from behind. Trailing 3-2 after five innings at Minute Maid Park, they would add a pair of runs over the remainder of the game to pull ahead. In the sixth, Garrett Jones scored on a wild pitch to knot the game at three apiece. Then, in the eighth, a single from Rod Barajas scored Andrew McCutchen, giving the Bucs a late one-run advantage they wouldn't surrender.

Starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez took the hill for Pittsburgh, making his debut after being traded from Houston on Tuesday. Rodriguez lasted six innings, giving up three, but was given a no decision. He struggled with his control, walking five.

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout. For more on the Astros, there's Crawfish Boxes. For all your Major League Baseball news and notes, visit the all new Baseball Nation.

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Pirates Vs. Astros Score Update: Pittsburgh Trails 3-2 After Five Innings

Much like Friday night when they got off to a sluggish start, the Pittsburgh Pirates again find themselves trailing at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

A pair of solo home runs from right fielder Alex Presley and second baseman Neil Walker gave the Bucs enough to hold a narrow 2-1 lead over the Houston Astros after four innings.

But in the bottom of the fifth, center fielder Justin Maxwell tripled to deep right field to drive in two runs and give the Astros a 3-2 edge.

On the mound for Pittsburgh is starter Wandy Rodriguez, who was acquired through a trade with Houston on Tuesday night. Thus far, he's given up four hits and three earned runs over five innings of play against his former team.

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout. For more on the Astros, there's Crawfish Boxes. For all your Major League Baseball news and notes, visit the all new Baseball Nation.

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Pirates Vs. Astros Lineups: Wandy Rodriguez Makes Bucs Debut Against Former Team

Here are the lineups for Saturday night's 7:05 (Eastern) game between the Pirates and Astros, in which new Bucs pitcher Wandy Rodriguez will make his Pirates debut. The Pirates acquired Rodriguez earlier in the week for prospects Robbie Grossman, Rudy Owens and Colton Cain.

Pirates:

Starling Marte LF
Alex Presley RF
Andrew McCutchen CF
Garrett Jones 1B
Neil Walker 2B
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Rod Barajas C
Clint Barmes SS
Wandy Rodriguez P

Astros:

Jose Altuve 2B
Matt Downs 1B
Chris Johnson 3B
J.D. Martinez LF
Justin Maxwell CF
Ben Francisco RF
Brian Bixler SS
Carlos Corporan C
Armando Galarraga P

Galarraga is making his 2012 MLB debut and his Astros debut, taking Rodriguez' place in the rotation.

Also, the Pirates have claimed former Pirates first baseman Steve Pearce, although he won't be with the team until Sunday.

You can read a good scouting report on Rodriguez here.

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout. For more on the Astros, there's Crawfish Boxes.

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Wandy Rodriguez Trade: Astros Blogger Comments On Pirates' New Starter

David Coleman of Crawfish Boxes, SB Nation's Houston Astros blog, answers questions about newly-acquired Pirates pitcher Wandy Rodriguez.

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Pirates Vs. Astros: Wandy Rodriguez To Make Bucs Debut

Wandy Rodriguez makes his Pirates debut Saturday at 7:05 (Eastern) as the Pirates try to continue to beat Rodriguez' former team, the Astros.

The Astros traded Rodriguez to the Pirates earlier in the week for prospects Robbie Grossman, Rudy Owens and Colton Cain. He's expected to bring stability to their rotation, providing a strong veteran arm behind James McDonald and A.J. Burnett.

Rodriguez throws a fastball, curve and change. His fastball isn't an impressive-looking pitch, typically coming in at around 89 MPH, but his curveball is nasty at times.

Rodriguez pitched 130.2 innings with the Astros this year, striking out 89 batters and walking 32. His strikeouts are down somewhat this year, but he's helping make up for that with better control than he's had in the past.

Starting opposite Rodriguez -- and taking his place in the Astros rotation, actually -- is Armando Galarraga, who had nine starts with Houston's Class AAA affiliate in Oklahoma City this season.

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout. For more on the Astros, there's Crawfish Boxes.

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Pirates Vs. Astros: Pittsburgh Prevails 6-5, Grabs Third Straight Win

They had to come from behind, but the Pittsburgh Pirates nonetheless edged the Houston Astros in the second game of the teams' four-game weekend set at Minute Maid Park by a final score of 6-5.

The Pirates would trail early, as starting pitcher Jeff Karstens surrendered six hits and four runs over the first five innings. But the Bucs would tack on two in the fifth, one in the seventh and two in the ninth to slide past the host Astros. Trailing by one run heading into the final inning, they pulled ahead on a wild pitch that scored pinch-runner Casey McGehee from third. Previously, rookie outfielder, Starling Marte who made his major-league debut Thursday, hit a sac fly to center that scored Jordy Mercer.

Joel Hanrahan would come on to record the save, his 31st of the season.

Game three is slated for Saturday at 7:05 p.m. EST. Pittsburgh has now won three straight contests.

For the latest on the Bucs, be sure to stay tuned to SB Nation Pittsburgh and check out Bucs Dugout, SB Nation's Pittsburgh Pirates blog.

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Pirates Vs. Astros Lineups: Starling Marte Leading Off Again

The Pittsburgh Pirates will take to the field Friday night looking for their third straight win. Luckily for them the lowly Houston Astros come in to tonight's game losing 23 of their last 25 games.

The Pirates will be anchored at the top of the order by Starling Marte, who sent shockwaves through the MLB after hitting a home run with the very first pitch he saw in the majors. He will go against Jordan Lyles, who is 2-7 with an ERA of 5.50.

Here are the lineups for Friday's game at Minute Maid Park.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Starling Marte LF
Alex Presley RF
Andrew McCutchen CF
Garrett Jones 1B
Neil Walker 2B
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Michael McKenry C
Clint Barmes SS
Jeff Karstens P

Houston Astros

Jose Altuve 2B
Marwin Gonzalez SS
Chris Johnson 3B
Scott Moore 1B
J.D. Martinez LF
Justin Maxwell CF
Ben Francisco RF
Chris Snyder C
Jordan Lyles P

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout. For more on the Astros, there's Crawfish Boxes.

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Pirates Vs. Astros: Jeff Karstens Takes Mound Against Jordan Lyles

Jeff Karstens takes on Jordan Lyles at 8:05 Friday as the drama of the New-Look Pirates continues to unfold.

The star of Thursday night's 5-3 Pirates win was outfielder Starling Marte, who homered on the first big-league pitch of his career while leading off the game. Marte will, presumably, play his second big-league game Friday.

Karstens is coming off a start in which he pitched seven scoreless innings against the Marlins. On July 5, he pitched eight scoreless frames against the Astros, striking out eight. After he pitches Friday, new acquisition Wandy Rodriguez will make his Pirates debut on Saturday.

Lyles allowed eight runs, five earned, in his last start, against the Diamondbacks. In his previous start, he allowed five runs in six innings against the Padres in Petco Park, which isn't easy to do. He has a 5.50 ERA on the season, allowing 13 home runs in 73 innings while striking out 44 and walking 23.

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout. For more on the Astros, there's Crawfish Boxes.

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Pirates Vs. Astros: Pittsburgh Tops Houston 5-3 In Series Opener

The Pittsburgh Pirates got off to a fast start Thursday night, adding five runs over the course of the first two innings -- all coming off home runs. That would prove to be enough in their series opener against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park, the first of a four-game weekend series. Pittsburgh grabbed a 5-2 win, their seventh in their last nine games.

The Pirates' trio of first and second inning homers all came off the bats of Starling Marte, Garrett Jones and Clint Barmes. Jones and Barmes' were each two-run shots.

Meanwhile, A.J. Burnett continued his strong performance this season, improving to 12-3 after lasting seven and one-third innings, striking out five and giving up two runs. Closer Joel Hanrahan would come on for the ninth to record the save.

Marte, the rookie outfielder, was making his highly-anticipated big-league debut and didn't disappoint. The Dominican Republic native went 2-for-4 at the plate, including his first inning homer and a single in the fifth.

With the win, Pittsburgh is now two games back of the Cincinnati Reds in the N.L. Central standings.

For the latest on the Bucs, be sure to stay tuned to SB Nation Pittsburgh and check out Bucs Dugout, SB Nation's Pittsburgh Pirates blog.

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GIF: Starling Marte Homers In First Plate Appearance For Pirates

Dominican Republic native Starling Marte made his highly-anticipated major-league debut earlier Thursday evening for the Pittsburgh Pirates. And he didn't disappoint. In his first at-bat, well, actually his first pitch, the rookie launched a home run to deep left field. It went about 410 feet, giving Pittsburgh an early 1-0 lead.

So ... here's a GIF.

Via SBNation.com's Baseball Nation.

For the latest on the Bucs, be sure to stay tuned to SB Nation Pittsburgh and check out Bucs Dugout, SB Nation's Pittsburgh Pirates blog.

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Pirates Vs. Astros Score Update: Pittsburgh Leads 5-0 After 4 Innings

Beginning a four-game set over the weekend at Minute Maid Park in Houston, the Pittsburgh Pirates have grabbed a 5-0 lead over the Astros after four innings of play. Credit the long ball for that.

The Pirates have gotten on the scoreboard quickly on Thursday. A home run from leadoff hitter Starling Marte put them up, 1-0. Promptly, Garret Jones launched a two-run homer making the score, 3-0. And then, in the top of the second inning, Clint Barmes also went deep, scoring Rod Barajas and giving the Bucs a 5-0 advantage despite just four hits.

A.J. Burnett has been on the mound for Pittsburgh and has continued his string of success, tossing 46 pitches over four innings, striking out three batters and allowing just one hit and no runs.

For the latest on the Bucs, be sure to stay tuned to SB Nation Pittsburgh and check out Bucs Dugout, SB Nation's Pittsburgh Pirates blog.

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Pirates Vs. Astros: Starling Marte Homers On First Pitch

Batting leadoff for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday night against the Houston Astros in his major-league debut, left fielder Starling Marte made quite the first impression. The rookie from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic launched a home run to deep left center field on the first pitch he saw, giving the Pirates a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning at Minute Maid Park.

Here's a photo of Marte at the plate, courtesy of the team's official Twitter account.

Marte_medium

Click on the link here for video of Marte's first-inning, leadoff home run.

He had previously hit 12 home runs this season while with the Indianapolis Indians, the Bucs' Triple-A affiliate. He had also driven in 62 RBIs in Indianapolis, hitting .286.

Since, the Pirates grabbed a 5-0 after a pair of two-run homers from Garrett Jones and Clint Barmes.

For the latest on the Bucs, be sure to stay tuned to SB Nation Pittsburgh and check out Bucs Dugout, SB Nation's Pittsburgh Pirates blog.

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Pirates vs. Astros: Starling Marte Will Make Debut In Left Field, Fill Leadoff Spot

Highly-touted Pirates prospect Starling Marte will officially make his long-awaited Major League debut against the Astros on Thursday night in Houston. The Pirates list him leading off in the lineup and playing left field. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Michael Sanserino tweets that Marte has chosen No. 6 as his uniform number.

Before his call-up, the 23-year-old Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic native was hitting .286 with 12 home runs, 62 RBIs and an .847 OPS for the Indianapolis Indians, the Bucs' Triple-A affiliate. Last season a Double-A Altoona, he hit .332 with 12 home runs, 50 RBIs and and .870 OPS.

Here are some photos of Marte getting ready for Thursday's game, via the team's official Twitter account.

Marte_medium

Meeting the media before the game...

Marte_bp_medium

Taking batting practice at Minute Maid Park.

For the latest on the Bucs, be sure to stay tuned to SB Nation Pittsburgh and check out Bucs Dugout, SB Nation's Pittsburgh Pirates blog.

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Pirates Vs. Astros: Wandy Rodriguez To Make Pirates Debut On Saturday

Newly-acquired starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez will make his Pirates debut on Saturday against the Astros in Houston according to MLB.com's Tom Singer. The Pirates traded for the 33-year old righty on Tuesday evening.

Singer ,also reports that Kevin Correia has been bumped from the Bucs rotation to make room for Rodriguez. Correia was the winning pitcher in Pittsburgh's 3-2 victory against the Cubs at PNC Park and is 8-6 with a 4.24 ERA, 50 strikeouts against 30 walks this season.

Rodriguez was 7-9 with a 3.79 ERA and 89 strikeouts against 32 walks with the Astros before joining his new teammates when they arrived in Houston on Thursday. Here's a photo of Rodriguez in his new digs and talking to reporters, courtesy of the team's official Twitter account.

Wandy_medium

For the latest on the Bucs, be sure to stay tuned to SB Nation Pittsburgh and check out Bucs Dugout, SB Nation's Pittsburgh Pirates blog.

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Pirates Vs. Astros Series Preview: Starling Marte, Wandy Rodriguez Likely To Make Pirates Debuts

It's not yet clear when Wandy Rodriguez will start for the Pirates, although all signs point to it being on Saturday.

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