HOUSTON (AP) - Paul Maholm labored through five innings, left with a lead, but the Pittsburgh Pirates could not hold on against the Houston Astros on Saturday night.
Humberto Quintero hit the go-ahead single in a three-run eighth inning to lift the Astros to a 6-4 win over the Pirates.
The Astros trailed 4-3 before Hunter Pence walked and scored on a fielder's choice to tie it in the eighth. Clint Barmes reached on an error by Brandon Wood when his grounder bounced off his glove and into the outfield to leave runners at the corners with one out.
Quintero's knock to shallow left field off Jose Veras (2-3) sent one home to give Houston the lead. Michael Bourn added an insurance run with his two-out, RBI single off Chris Leroux that made it 6-4.
Maholm, who yielded three runs and a season-high-tying nine hits in five innings, was disappointed with another no-decision, and took blame for the loss.
``My job is to get deeper into the game,' Maholm said. ``You can't lay it all on the bullpen for four innings; it is going to be tough on those guys with just a one-run lead. This was on me. I should have gone deeper. I should have done a better job at being efficient.'
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle could see from the beginning that it was going to be a tough night for Maholm.
``He really had to grind the whole time he was out there,' he said. ``It was a very professional effort, but the telling stat is that he got just three ground balls in five innings, and one of them was a sacrifice bunt. That is really not his game. But he gave us everything he had.'
Sergio Escalona (2-1) struck out two in a scoreless eighth before Houston closer Mark Melancon pitched a perfect ninth for his seventh save.
The Astros led 3-0 after three innings, thanks to a two-run homer by Jeff Keppinger. But the Pirates rallied behind a home run by Neil Walker in the fifth and consecutive homers by Lyle Overbay and Wood in a three-run sixth inning.
Walker had a season-high four hits and homered for the first time since June 5 to extend his hitting streak to 10 games.
``He was sparking a bit, but then we moved him into the three spot in that last homestand, and he's really seemed to find a nice grove,' Hurdle said. ``He has gotten some really nice hits for us since then.'
After Pence walked in the eighth inning, he advanced to second on a groundout by Carlos Lee. He stole third base and scored when he slid in behind catcher Michael McKenry when Brett Wallace reached on a fielder's choice to tie it at 4-4. Hurdle rushed out to home plate and argued the call for a couple of minutes before retreating to the dugout.
``I thought he had him out at home,' Hurdle said. ``Grounder to short, throw was on line, and I thought the tag was made before he hit the plate.'
McKenry talked about how aggressive Pence was on the run home.
``He was going on contact, the ball took one too many bounces,' he said. ``It was a close play, the umpire had a tough angle, and there you go. I thought he was actually going to annihilate me. But I thought I was there, he slid in good, and that was that.'
Bourn finished with three hits and Keppinger had a double to go along with his home run to help the Astros snap a five-game losing skid and win for just the second time this month.
Houston starter Bud Norris allowed nine hits and four runs - including a season-high three home runs - with five strikeouts in 5 2-3 innings.
Lee doubled in the second inning before a single by Jason Michaels. Lee scored on a passed ball to put Houston up 1-0.
Norris walked Wood with one out in the second inning before a single by McKenry. Maholm reached on an error by Norris on a force attempt to load the bases. Norris pitched out of that jam by retiring the next two Pirates to end the inning.
Bourn singled in the third inning, but was caught trying to steal second base. Angel Sanchez walked to set up Keppinger's homer to left field that extended Houston's lead to 3-0.
Norris had retired nine of the previous 11 he faced before Walker's shot to right field that cut Houston's lead to 3-1 in the fifth inning.
Overbay's solo home run in the sixth inning got Pittsburgh within 3-2. He hit a line drive to right field on a full count on the eighth pitch of the at-bat. Wood tied it on the next at-bat with his home run that bounced high on the wall in center field.
McKenry doubled before Chase d'Arnaud's two-out single chased Norris.
Walker's single to center field scored McKenry to give Pittsburgh a 4-3 lead. Houston finally got out of the sixth inning when Andrew McCutchen hit a fly ball to Pence.
NOTES: Pittsburgh OF Jose Tabata, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a left quadriceps strain did not play on Friday or Saturday in his rehabilitation assignment with Class A Bradenton after experiencing tightness in his quad during Thursday's game. He has been evaluated and is OK and is expected to go through a full workout on Sunday. ... Houston OF Jason Bourgeois (right quadriceps strain) is scheduled to play to play at least two rehabilitation games for Double-A Corpus Christi and will probably play three games at the Triple-A level before he returns to the Astros.
The Associated Press News Service
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