HOUSTON (AP) - J.A. Happ appeared on his way to earning his first win more than a month.
Then, the Astros found another way to lose.
Pinch-hitter Xavier Paul doubled, then stayed in the game and hit a two-run homer and single on Wednesday night as the Pirates moved over .500 with a 7-3 win over the Houston Astros.
Happ gave up six hits and two runs while striking out seven in five innings.
``Happ kept us in the game,' Houston manager Brad Mills said. ``His pitch count got elevated. He came after some guys in some big situations and worked himself out. That fifth inning was stressful on him.'
Happ was disappointed that he wasn't able to stay in the game longer.
``I'm trying to go out there and play to win,' he said. ``I don't play to not lose. We're going to keep trying to figure it out and keep working on stuff.'
Happ had five straight losses before not factoring into Wednesday's decision.
``I battled and tried to keep it close,' Happ said. ``I threw a lot more pitches than I'd like. They battled me as I'd battle them, and we'd get into deep counts.'
Neil Walker tripled and drove in three runs for the Pirates.
Paul batted for starter Charlie Morton (7-3) in the sixth and doubled to start a three-run burst that put Pittsburgh ahead 5-3.
Pinch-hitter Garrett Jones singled home Paul and made it 3-all. Andrew McCutchen hit a grounder that first baseman Brett Wallace badly overthrew to the plate, letting the go-ahead run score, and Walker had a sacrifice fly.
``He did say that he saw him (the pitcher), but he was already making a bad throw,' Mills said of Wallace's throw. ``He was off-balanced. He didn't set his feet and made a bad throw.'
Paul went to play right after his pinch hit and connected the next inning for his first home run of the season and second of his career.
Paul singled in the ninth inning to finish 3 for 3 in a game that took 3 hours, 47 minutes. The teams combined for 26 hits and left 27 on base. It was the longest nine-inning game at Minute Maid Park since a game against the Cubs of the same length in August 2002.
Michael Bourn fought through an illness to finish with three hits, an RBI and two stolen bases for the Astros, who have dropped 10 of 12.
``It's a tough one,' Wallace said. ``We haven't given Happ a lot of run support in the past, and we finally did. We had tough breaks, and we weren't able to come back.'
Morton allowed eight hits and three runs in five innings. Daniel McCutchen yielded three hits in three scoreless innings.
``We are having good at_bats,' Wallace said. ``It's not like we are going up there and getting blown away. Hopefully, we can score more runs. We need to put more good at_bats together and drive in runs. If a couple balls go our way or a couple more timely hits, then the game is a different story.'
Reliever Enerio Del Rosario (0-1) allowed the three runs in the sixth.
Bourn was plunked with one out in the bottom of the sixth, Hunter Pence singled and they pulled a double steal with two outs. A groundout by Carlos Lee ended the scoring threat.
The Astros got a pair of singles with two outs in the eighth inning, but Pence grounded into a forceout to end the inning.
Bourn's RBI single tied it at 2 in the fourth and he later stole third. He was ill with stomach problems for most of the day and wasn't originally in the lineup. He was inserted about 75 minutes before the game after seeing a doctor and drinking Pedialyte, a children's hydration drink.
Notes: Pittsburgh's Michael McKenry singled in the second and seventh innings for his first career hits after entering the game 0 for 14. ... The Astros placed reliever Brandon Lyon on the disabled list with tendinitis in his right biceps less than a week after returning from his first trip to the DL. He's scheduled to see Dr. Lewis Yocum in Los Angeles on Friday for a second opinion. ... Pittsburgh C Wyatt Toregas cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Indianapolis.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved