Jeff Karstens continued his dominance against the Houston Astros, allowing four hits and throwing eight shutout innings as the surging Pittsburgh Pirates (46-36) defeated the Houston Astros 2-0 on Thursday night at PNC Park, to complete the four game sweep.
Karstens who improved to 4-0 his last four starts against the Astros since 2011, struck out a season high eight batters and walked just one in the win. Karstens went eight strong as Joel Hanrahan pitched a perfect ninth for his 22nd save of the season.
“Location, command, changing speed, hitters just weren’t able to square him up, ” manager Clint Hurdle said of Karstens. “Very efficient outing, ” Hurdle said.
Facing 28 batters, Karstens threw 22 first pitch strikes and Hurdle credited his breaking ball as a big reason for the strikeouts tonight. “He’s making pitches, ” Hurdle said. “He’s getting strike ones. With arsenal he has, he can go a lot of places. Ability to spike that breaking ball, he did it a number of times, especially to lefties. Right now he’s got it working and that’s why he’s getting strikeouts, ” Hurdle said.
Karstens has an 0.29 ERA in his last four starts vs the Astros.
The Pirates who have won eight of nine, completed their first four game sweep against Houston since 1979. The Pirates improved to 27-13 at home.
Garrett Jones and Casey McGehee each drove in runs as they continue their strong play at the plate. In the second McGehee doubled to right and Jones drove in Jeff Karstens with a sacrifice fly in the third.
“We’re making our way, ” Hurdle said of the first place Pirates.