Jeff Karstens looked good over seven innings, allowing just two runs and seven hits. He surrendered three singles, three doubles and a walk in needing just 87 pitches to get that deep.
The Pirates jumped on Wandy Rodriguez immediately, utilizing a walk and four singles to plate three runs in the first.
Eric Hinske had three hits, Jack Wilson had a pair of doubles, Robinzon Diaz drove in two and Freddy Sanchez collected two more hits to pace the Pirates attack.
Trailing 7-2 heading into the 9th, Houston loaded the bases with two outs off Tom Gorzelanny. Matt Capps was called in – his first appearance since being hit in the elbow by a liner. He forced home two runs with a BB and an HBP before getting Carlos Lee to end it.
Sanchez is hitting .333 now
Would like to see Gorzy and Capps get squared away.
Brandon Backe made his first appearance of 2009. He was sidelined with a strained “intercoastal” muscle. It has been a tough couple of months for Backe as he was also arrested at a wedding reception in the off season.
Sanchez has 14 hits in his last 22 at bats.
Adam LaRoche, Nate McLouth and Brandon Moss were kept out of the starting line up. John Russell penciled in Andy LaRoche into the second spot – the highest in the batting order he has hit all season – and he responded with a single and a double.
Rodriguez gave up five earned runs for the first time this year. He gave up six runs to Cincinnati in his last start, but they were all unearned. August 5, 2008 was the last time Rodriguez gave up five or more earnies.