HOUSTON (AP) - Pittsburgh reliever Jason Grilli felt he wasn't at his best Monday night, and it showed.
Carlos Lee hit a tiebreaking three-run homer of in the seventh inning, Wandy Rodriguez struck out a career-high 13 and the Houston Astros rallied past the Pirates 7-4.
Grilli (1-1) allowed two runs and walked one in 1 1-3 innings in a situation he normally thrives in. He had made seven straight scoreless outings covering nine innings entering the game.
Grilli, who was signed as free agent on July 21, said he wants the ball even though he has worked a lot - 16 appearances in the last month, and he threw 2 2-3 scoreless innings Wednesday.
``I'm going out there and grinding,' Grilli said. ``I didn't have it tonight. I didn't have my breaking ball. My velocity was a little down. I was a little tired the second inning. That's on me. I'll take credit for not getting out the situation I've been getting out of.'
Trailing 3-2 in the seventh, a fielder's choice grounder by J.D. Martinez tied the score and Lee extended his hitting streak to 10 games with his 14th homer off Jose Veras, putting the Astros ahead for the first time.
Veras has pitched well as of late, too, allowing just three earned runs in his last 13 1-3 innings.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said the big at-bat of that inning was when Grilli hit Jordan Schafer with a pitch with one out.
Rodriguez (10-9) struck out six of the first nine batters he faced and didn't allow a hit until Josh Harrison led off the fourth with a double and Andrew McCutchen followed with his 19th homer.
Neil Walker doubled and Ryan Doumit drove in the third run with a double. Rodriguez then walked Matt Diaz before finding his control again and striking out the next three.
``The game plan is that he's going to pitch away his fastball and try to spin his breaking ball, and you have to find a way to take some of his breaking balls,' Hurdle said. ``We swung at a lot of breaking balls out of the zone.'
Rodriguez (10-9) struck out the side twice, including the fourth. He went seven innings, walked four and allowed four hits. It was the 10th double-digit strikeout game of Rodriguez's career.
Rodriguez had fanned 11 batters previously on three occasions.
``Offspeed, offspeed, offspeed,' McCutchen said of Rodriguez. ``He was good. He was throwing his off-speed. He was throwing his curveball. I don't think he threw one changeup. It was all fastball and curveball or slider or whatever you want to call it. That's basically all he did. He was getting ahead by us chasing a lot of his offspeed.'
Juan Abreu struck out the first two batters of his major league debut for the Astros but then walked a batter and gave up an RBI triple to Ronny Cedeno in the ninth.
Mark Melancon got the final out for his 15th save in 20 chances.
An infield hit by Jose Altuve gave Houston its seventh run in the eighth.
Ross Ohlendorf, trying to rebound from four months on the disabled list, didn't allow a hit until Martinez singled to left field with two outs in the fourth inning.
Ohlendorf pitched five innings, allowed five hits two earned runs and he struck out six and walked one.
``I felt much better than the last game,' Ohlendorf said. ``It was the best I've felt in a while. I felt like my command was better. My slider felt really good. I think the most important thing was my fastball command was better than before.'
After Lee walked, Brian Bogusevic doubled to the left-field corner scoring Martinez. Jimmy Paredes then struck out to end the inning and keep the Pirates ahead 3-1.
Clint Barmes doubled to open the fifth and scored after two outs on a single by Jordan Schafer.
Rodriguez was much stronger than his last start against Colorado on Aug. 24 amid talk that he was being traded to the Rockies. He allowed 10 hits, four earned runs over six innings with four walks and two strikeouts.
NOTES: Pirates RHP Jeff Karstens pitched Sunday and won't get a chance to be the first pitcher this season to beat the Astros four times. Houston's bullpen has allowed two earned runs over the last 12 1-3 innings. ... RHP David Carpenter has not allowed a run in 20 of his 24 major league appearances. Carpenter pitched a perfect eighth. He got his first big league save on Sunday. The Astros have won five of their last six home games.
The Associated Press News Service
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