Jordan Lyles took the bump. Alex Presley fell behind 0-2, worked the count full, and then rolled over on an outer half fastball to ground out to first. Drew Sutton turned a changeup into a swinging bunt, and reached when Lyles made a bad toss to first. Cutch flew out to center and Garrett Jones popped out foul to the catcher after being jammed with a slider. After a frame, 1-0 Houston.
Jordan Shafer got ahead 3-0 to open the second, but J-Mick came back to get the count full and coax a long fly out on the eighth pitch. He struck out the pitcher looking and got Altuve on a bouncer to third nicely played by Casey McGehee for a welcome rebound inning. Neil Walker got into an 0-2 hole and eventually K'ed on a foul tip. McGehee went down looking on three pitches. At least Clint Barmes put a ball in play, flying out to right.
Jed Lowrie was in an 0-2 hole, took the count full, and was called out on heater after seven pitches. The next pair went down handily. That's seven in a row for J-Mick after three. Mike McKenry took a strike, fouled one off, then swung through a curve. It took J-Mick a little longer, but he eventually swung through a fastball. Presley finally got the Bucs first hit when he yanked a slider running in on him into right that Bogusevic had trouble corralling for a three-bagger. For a second, it looked like a possible inside-the-park job, but Nick Leyva threw up the hands at the hot corner as the ball came in. Maybe he should have sent him and hoped for a bad relay, as Sutton tapped back to the hill to squash the brief Buc rally.
Martinez led off the fourth with his second hit, a double to center. McDonald got a fly out followed by a run-saving dive and throw out by McGehee. Shafer was walked intentionally to bring up Lyles, who was walked unintentionally on five pitches. Altuve grounded out to third; Houston is 1-for-6 with RISP in four innings, which is pretty much the good news for the Bucs so far. The Pirates sent up the 3-4-5 guys for their second look at Lyles.
Cutch started it off with a full count grounder into right off a heater. The next pitch was heater pretty much center cut to Jones, and he banged it off the Clemente Wall pole to give the Bucs their first lead at 2-1. It took Walker seven pitches to get a curve on the inside half, and he made the right field fans happy by knocking it off the same foul pole to up the lead to 3-1. McGehee tried for the trifecta, but ended up with a double to right center. Barmes rolled a slider up the middle to make it 4-1. Guess the second time around was the charm.
Carlos Lee drilled a one out single. Bogusevic hit the next pitch back to J-Mick; he threw it away trying for the force, and ended up with Astros on the corners. But he made up for it; Martinez rolled a curve to short, and the 6-4-3 ended the frame. It also kept McDonald alive for at least another inning, as he's at 84 pitches.
Sutton drove a second pitch fastball to left for a triple. Lyles tried to slip a 3-2 hook past Cutch, and he roped it into left overt the sack for a two bagger. Jones got ahead 2-0 and poked a slider the opposite way for another double. That was it for Lyles; Pittsburgh was on an 8-for-11 roll against him with six extra base knocks.
Rhiner Cruz took the ball, and lost The Kid on a 3-2 tight heater. Then he uncorked a wild pitch to put Buccos at second and third. Cruz's next pitch was a fastball at the belt, and it was belted for a double to right by McGehee. He wiggled out of that jam with a DP by Barmes - he grounded out to third, was tossed at first, and McGehee was caught trying to sneak into third in a Lastings Milledge flashback. Cruz finished off by getting McKenry swinging, The Fort's third whiff of the night. After the smoke had cleared, it was 8-1 Pittsburgh after five.
With an out, J-Mick fell behind Moore 2-0, pumped him a heater, and he dropped it over the right field wall; lotta action there tonight. Three of the four batters hit the ball hard off J-Mick, but that's the nice thing about a big lead. Just pump some strikes and let the fielders earn their salary.
Fernando Abad climbed the mound in the sixth. With an out, Presley legged out a hit down the right side and Sutton followed by shooting a change up the middle. Cutch banged a fastball away into right to juice the sacks. Abad fed Jones a two strike hook away; when you're hot, you're hot - he nubbed it up the left side for an infield knock. Walker rolled into a 4-6-3 to end the frame with the Bucs up 9-2.
Clint Hurdle let McDonald work the seventh, both saving an arm and letting the big dog feed a little longer. He put the 'Stros away 1-2-3. J-Mick went 7 IP, tossing 110 pitches. He gave up two runs on four hits with five walks (one intentional) and 4 K. David Carpenter took over for Houston. McGehee greeted him with a liner to right for a knock. With an out, The Fort was behind 0-2, and got plunked. Josh Harrison, pinch hitting, quickly got into an 0-2 hole and bounced into a 4-6-3 DP to end the frame and bring on Jared Hughes.
He beaned the first hitter of the eighth, Bogusevic, bringing the baseball accounts ledger into balance. It didn't even hurt - well, maybe Bogusevic - as Martinez grounded into a 6-4-3 DP. He gave up a knock up the middle followed by a fly out. With all that, it took just seven pitches to close the frame.
Fernando Rodriguez took the hill for the bottom of the eighth. With two down, Cutch collected his fourth hit of the night, a knock up the middle, bringing the crowd to its feet with chants of "MVP" echoing throughout PNC Park. Jones followed with a knock. Walker went up battling, and turned on a tight heater, smacking it into right and sending the pair home with the tenth and eleventh runs as Bogusevic had his own battle with the Clemente Wall.
Hughes tucked the Astros away quietly, ending with a flourish by K'ing Altuve. Looked bad for the good guys after three, but that's why they play nine innings. Lucas Harrell and AJ Burnett get it on tomorrow.
- Cutch & Garrett Jones had four hits; Casey McGehee had three. Jones had four RBI, McGehee three. McCutch and Jones each scored three runs. That's a middle of the order.
- Andrew McCutchen was named the NL Player of the Month for June with a slash line of .370/7/26, 19 runs and 4 stolen sacks. The last Bucco to earn that honor was Jason Bay way back in May 2006.
- Jones' infield single was his first hit against a lefty since last August 25th, breaking an 0-for-24 streak against southpaws.
- The Pirates have now homered in ten straight games. It's the longest dinger streak since smacking10 straight in 2005.
- 21,041 were in the house tonight. Lotta people decided to watch power boats instead of Pirates with the Regatta going on at the Point.
- Altoona's Gerrit Cole went 5-2/3 IP, giving up 2 runs (1 earned) on six hits and one walk with five K. He threw 87 pitches
- Bradenton's Jameson Taillon's outing lasted seven scoreless innings. He surrendered 3 hits and two walks while K'ing two, serving 93 pitches.