Jeff Karstens allowed three hits over 6.2 scoreless innings against the Houston Astros Tuesday, leading the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 1-0 victory at Minute Maid Park. The Pirates are now back to .500, at 33-33.
The win had a familiar shape for Pirates fans - strong pitching, and very little offense. The Pirates managed just six hits, all singles, and five walks. Garrett Jones knocked in Neil Walker in the second inning to drive in the only run of the game. Andrew McCutchen extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a single in the sixth. Bud Norris struck out nine batters for the Astros, mostly using low sliders to fool hitters.
The Pirates used four relievers in 1.1 innings to get from Karstens to Joel Hanrahan, who pitched a perfect ninth for his 18th save. Those four relievers (Chris Resop, Tony Watson, Tim Wood and Jose Veras) escaped without harm, obviously, but the fact that Clint Hurdle used so many perhaps indicates his level of comfort with his middle relief corps right now.
In any case, the Pirates are back at .500, still just 4.5 games out in the N.L. Central.