PITTSBURGH (AP) - Second-to-last in the majors in home runs, the Houston Astros displayed some power on Wednesday.
J.A. Happ allowed the Andrew McCutchen to do the same.
McCutchen hit his 21st and 22nd home runs, Jason Jaramillo singled home the go-ahead run in the eighth and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Astros 5-4 on Wednesday night, last-place Houston's fifth loss in six games.
``That,' said Astros manager Brad Mills said, ``was our game to win. We've had a few tough ones to lose, and that definitely is one of them.'
Houston hit three home runs, including consecutive shots by Carlos Lee and Matt Downs in the first inning that gave them the first of two three-run leads.
Clint Barmes also homered, but Happ gave up both of McCutchen's shots, the second of which coming with two men on in the fourth to tie the game at 4.
Making his third start since a three-week stint in the minors during August, Happ gave up four runs on five hits and four walks in five innings. He tied a season high with eight strikeouts.
``We have seen him fight through it before,' Mills said of Happ. ``He was able to make a lot of pitches when he needed, but obviously one guy hurt him.'
Happ had allowed one earned run in his two previous starts since bring promoted back to the majors. He also hadn't allowed more than three runs in any of his previous seven career starts against the Pirates, including tossing seven shutout innings against them in his most recent outing Aug. 31.
But McCutchen tagged him for two first-pitch homers Wednesday.
``He was aggressive, obviously, today,' Happ said. ``Kind of a change from the last time we played in our home series, but he is a tough out.'
Clint Hurdle' 600th as a manager in the majors was earned when Jaramillo's grounder through the hole at second drove in pinch-runner Chase d'Arnaud.
``I was just looking for a good pitch out over the plate,' said Jaramillo, who was on Pittsburgh's opening day roster but spent most of the season in Triple-A or injured. ``I know in that situation you hear that a lot, but honestly, I was just trying to stay as quiet as possible, and it worked out. I got a pitch out over the plate and just put a good swing on it.'
The Pirates' bullpen combined for 5 2-3 innings of scoreless relief, with Tony Watson (2-2) getting the final out in the eighth and Joel Hanrahan working a perfect ninth for his 36th save in 39 opportunities.
Garrett Jones and Ryan Doumit hit consecutive pinch-hit singles with one out in the bottom of the eighth off Wilton Lopez (2-6). Jaramillo then produced the only run of the game that did not come on a home run.
Lee and Downs hit consecutive homers off Brian Burres in the first, the second time this season the Astros hit back-to-back shots.
Lee has 15 homers, but four have come in his past 14 games. Downs made it two Burres pitches, two home runs to left, when his line drive struck the foul pole.
``We went up early,' said Downs, ``but there was a lot of game left when we went up.
``When you go up early, there's a lot of game left to fight back, so it's just one of those nights.'
Barmes 10th homer was a solo shot in the fourth.
McCutchen has four career multihomer games, two this season. McCutchen has a career-high 22 home runs.
``You don't want to not ready until after the first pitch; you want to be ready every single pitch,' McCutchen said. ``That's my thought process - be ready. And (Happ) grooved me a couple fastballs, and I was able to hit them out.'
Making his second start since being promoted from Triple-A, Burres allowed four runs on seven hits in 3 2-3 innings.
``I had some command issues, pretty much, with all the pitches,' Burres said. ``And I left some out over the fat part of the plate, and they got hit pretty hard.'
NOTES: Hurdle, who kept the ball from his milestone victory, said LHP Jeff Locke will make his major league debut when he starts Saturday's game against Florida. RHP Charlie Morton will, in effect, have his turn in the rotation skipped as he deals with late-season fatigue. Hurdle also said the team could, at times, go with a six-man rotation the rest of the season. ... Pittsburgh RHP Jared Hughes made his major league debut, allowing one hit in 1 1-3 scoreless innings. ... Astros RHP Bud Norris has 34 strikeouts in 29 1-3 innings over his past five outings. He starts Friday in Washington. ... The Pirates begin a three-game series against the Marlins on Friday. Pittsburgh was swept in Florida in April, and was shut out in two of the three defeats.
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