Sports Network | September 26, 2010
Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - Paul Maholm struck out seven in seven innings of one-run ball as the Pirates got by Houston, 9-3, to clinch a series win.
Pedro Alvarez went 3-for-5 with a two-run double and Neil Walker drove in three with a two-RBI double and run-scoring single for Pittsburgh, which beat the Astros, 6-4, on Saturday and has won seven of nine overall.
Maholm (9-15) picked up his second straight win after losing six consecutive decisions dating back to August 8. The lefty walked one and allowed six hits.
J.A. Happ (6-3) received the tough-luck loss, charged with just two unearned runs and four hits in six innings. A fellow southpaw, Happ struck out four and walked two in his first defeat since August 20.
"We've been struggling a little bit, we didn't do a lot of good things today," said Happ. "We have to try to regroup and finish strong these last two series and get back to the way we were playing about a week ago."
The bullpen was then slammed for seven runs over the last two innings as Houston lost its fifth game in six tries.
Carlos Lee had an RBI double in the first inning for Houston, and it stayed 1-0 until the Pirates scored twice in the sixth to move in front. The Bucs had runners at the corners and one out when Ronny Cedeno sent a chopper to third. Chris Johnson came home with the throw and Jason Castro's missed catch error allowed Garrett Jones to score.
Andy LaRoche made it 2-1 with a sacrifice fly to plate Alvarez. The Pirates then scored seven runs in the next two innings to blow the game open.
Mark Melancon took the hill for Houston in the seventh and put two on before giving way to Fernando Abad, who gave up Walker's RBI single and Alvarez's two-run double.
Hunter Pence cracked his 25th home run of the season, a two-run shot, off Evan Meek in the top of the eighth to break up the carnage. Pittsburgh was back at it in the bottom half, this time against Felipe Paulino, as Ryan Doumit had a pinch-hit RBI single before Tim Byrdak came on with the bases loaded and one out.
Walker laced a two-run double into right field and Jones lofted a sacrifice fly to complete the scoring.
"We put a lot of focus into this homestand and it was good to see that they responded," said Pirates' manager John Russell. "We lost the first game and bounced back and had a big game today. They were real excited about this homestand and we need to carry it to the road to finish out the season."
Despite Pittsburgh's win, Houston took 11 of the 15 games between the two teams this season and is 21-9 versus the Bucs since the start of 2009...Maholm improved to 10-6 in 17 career starts against the Astros...Pence finished 2- for-3 with a walk and two runs scored. This is his third straight season with 25 homers.