The Pirates' nightmare September continued as Pittsburgh fell to two games under .500 and six games out of the wild-card race with a 7-1 loss to the lowly Astros. Houston jumped all over the Pirates early as Jed Lowrie belted a three-run blast off Pittsburgh starter Jeff Locke in the bottom of the first. Locke would recover nicely, striking out eight and allowing only the three runs in five innings of work, but was let down by his offense and bullpen.
James McDonald relieved Locke in the sixth and allowed a disastrous sequence. Justin Maxwell homered, then Lawrie was hit by a pitch. Brett Wallace tripled him in, followed by a Brian Bogusevic walk. At that point, McDonald was given the hook for Bryan Morris without getting a single out. The Astros would get one more in the inning, and cap their scoring with a Wallace home run in the seventh off Hisanori Takahashi.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh's offense could gain no traction. Houston starter Edgar Gonzalez was forced to leave the game in the second inning with a strained hamstring, but the Pirates could muster only eight baserunners while striking out eleven times against six Astro relievers. Pittsburgh only avoided the shutout with a Garrett Jones solo homer in the eighth.
The Pirates will try to stop their four-game skid as the two teams square off again tomorrow night. Kevin Correia takes the mound for Pittsburgh against southpaw Dallas Keuchel for Houston.
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