For the second straight night, the Pittsburgh lineup was nowhere to be found as the Houston Astros took Game 1 of a weekend series at PNC Park. Houston finished off the 1-0 shutout victory that did not feature an RBI. The Astros would get the game's only run in the top of the second, when outfielder Justin Maxwell grounded into a double play with Brian Bogusevic standing on third.
Houston starter Bud Norris went six innings, allowing just three hits and no runs. Norris is one of the better strikeout pitchers in the NL this yea, and he fanned eight Pirates in his six innings of work. Norris added to a particularly brutal stretch for the Bucs' lineup, coming on the heels of Stephen Strasburg's 13 strikeout game against the Pirates. As a team, the Bucs finished with 11 Ks and did not walk a single time against Norris and three Houston relievers.
The offense had a couple chances to put a run on the board but quickly squandered the opportunities to keep the shutout alive. Pittsburgh loaded the bases in the sixth inning but failed to get a run across after two strikeouts and a pop out from the top of the order. Rod Barajas started the eighth with a single, but pinch runner Josh Harrison was promptly picked off first to end any hopes of a late threat.
The bright spot for the Bucs was once again on the mound, as James McDonald went eight innings and struck out eight. McDonald has been red hot this season, striking out at least seven in the last four starts. But McDonald was the hard-luck loser to fall to 2-2.
Game 2 will be Saturday night with Charlie Morton scheduled to go against J.A. Happ.
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