PITTSBURGH (AP) - Houston's Wandy Rodriguez wanted to finish the game. Manager Brad Mills felt he was quite capable of doing so but lifted him anyway.
That turned out to be a mistake.
Pittsburgh tied it in the ninth against closer Brett Myers and got the winning run in the 12th to beat the Astros 3-2 on Sunday.
Rodriguez allowed three hits over eight innings and retired the final 14 batters he faced. Despite conceding that ``he still had plenty of pitches to go,' Mills replaced Rodriguez after throwing 94 pitches, citing the hot bats of Jose Tabata and Andrew McCutchen that were due up.
``It was the right thing to do to get (Myers),' Mills said. ``Weather-wise and mound-wise, it was tough.'
Pedro Alvarez drove in Tabata with a sacrifice fly to tie it in the ninth, and Clint Barmes scored on Josh Harrison's two-out single three innings later to hand the Astros their fifth loss in their past seven games.
``I didn't have any problems today,' said Rodriguez, who was in line for his fourth win in his past five outings. ``I worked quickly, threw (first-pitch strikes), stayed ahead in the count. That's what I tried to do all game today.'
He succeeded. After the start of the game was delayed 29 minutes - a light rain persisted throughout the majority of the afternoon - Walker and Andrew McCutchen each hit one-out doubles to left in the first off of Rodriguez to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead.
Two batters later, Casey McGehee walked. The only other baserunner Rodriguez allowed was a leadoff single by Alvarez in the fourth, but he was erased when Yamaico Navarro grounded into a double play.
``I felt better in the eighth inning, too,' Rodriguez said. ``I wanted to come back (for the ninth), but Mills said, `We want to use Myers,' and I said, `OK.''
It didn't work out. Pittsburgh loaded the bases with no outs against Myers, who blew his first save in 10 opportunities.
``I made a good pitch on Alvarez,' Myers said. ``I thought it was a strike, (umpire Jim Reynolds) called it a ball, then the sacrifice fly the next pitch.
``That's the way it goes sometimes. Some calls go our way, sometimes they don't. I mean, I shouldn't have ever been in that situation.'
Three innings later, Mills lifted left-hander Wesley Wright with no one on and two outs. Barmes doubled to left, and Josh Harrison pulled a liner to left on the first pitch from Fernando Rodriguez (1-4).
Barmes slid under the tag of Jason Castro, who received a high throw from Justin Maxwell.
``Pitchers really aren't going to really going to fool around in that situation,' Harrison said. ``They're going to try to attack the zone.
``Anytime you've got the winning run in scoring position, if you've got a pitch to hit, you don't want to let it go.'
Pittsburgh's regular shortstop, Barmes manned first base for the first time in his career in the top of the 12th.
The inning before that, Pirates starting catcher Rod Barajas made his first appearance at the position since July 9, 2008.
``My mentality has always been to win the game in nine innings - after that, all bets were off,' Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. ``We were trying out first basemen. One of them actually played there before, too.
``It was a good team win. Everybody threw something in; everybody needed to do something.'
Tony Watson (3-0) pitched a perfect 12th to earn the win, following a hitless inning each from Jason Grilli, Joel Hanrahan and Juan Cruz.
Starter A.J. Burnett allowed two runs on six hits in eight innings for the Pirates, who got two hits from Neil Walker.
Houston was denied its first series win on the road since June 17-19, 2011.
Carlos Lee had two hits and scored both Astros runs, and Castro had two hits and an RBI for Houston, which has lost five of seven.
Burnett almost matched Rodriguez. He did not walk a batter and had four strikeouts.
Torched for 12 runs in 2 2-3 innings May 2, Burnett has allowed a total of five runs in his other four starts combined.
NOTES: Rodriguez had seven strikeouts to give him 31 in his past three outings against Pittsburgh. ... Hanrahan pitched the 10th hours after being reinstated to the active roster before the game. He had missed the previous three games on the bereavement list due to the death of his grandmother. ... The Astros traveled to Philadelphia after the game to begin a two-game series in which RHP Lucas Harrell was scheduled to start Monday's opener.
The Associated Press News Service
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