Astros 6 – Pirates 4
W: S. Escalona (2-1)
L: J. Veras (2-3)
S: M. Melancon (7)
Neil Walker’s big night was spoiled by a three-run eigth inning by the Houston Astros, who rallied to defeat the Pirates 6-4 on Saturday night.
Jose Veras (2-3, 3.05 ERA) walked Hunter Pence to leadoff the inning and the Astros went on to score three times in the eigth.
Veras allowed 1 hit and 3 runs in 0.1 innings to take the loss.
The Pirates fell to 48-44 on the season and have fallen out of first place as the St. Louis Cardinals (50-44) defeated the Cincinnati Reds 5-1, earning their 50th win of the season.
The Pirates enter Sunday one game back of St. Louis.
The Pirates hit three solo home runs (Walker, Wood, Overbay) in the loss.
— There has been some complaints about Neil Walker’s (.271 – 9 HR – 62 RBI) inconsistencies at the plate this season as his batting average has been up and down this season, but Walker continues to evolve as one of those players who just gets it done.
Walker went 4-for-5 at the plate, with a home run, 2 RBI’s, and 3 singles in the loss. Walker extended his hitting streak to 10 games and is hitting .452 with 1 home runs, 10 RBI’s, 3 doubles, 1 triple and 8 runs scored during the streak.
Walker got the Pirates going, hitting a solo shot in the 5th inning, his first homer since June 5th, cutting the Astros lead to 3-1.
One inning later, Walker put the Pirates on top, driving in Michael McKenry on a two-out single, giving the Pirates a 4-3 lead in the top of the 6th.
Walker has 32 two-out RBI’s, which ranks 1st in the National League.
— Paul Maholm (6-9, 3.06 ERA) received a no decision in the loss. Maholm only lasted 5 innings, allowing 9 hits and 3 runs. He left after the 5th with just 80 pitches thrown.
— Michael McKenry went 3-for-4 with a run scored. McKenry’s batting average is up to .263 and he hasn’t been as overmatched at the plate like he appeared to be just a few weeks ago.
— Lyle Overbay hit the ball extremely well, going 2-for-4 with a solo home run and 1 run scored.
— Brandon Wood had a solo home run and has homered twice in his last nine at-bats, but Wood continues to be a major liability at third base. His movement on balls where he has to go left or right is extremely slow and a problem for the Pirates defensively.
— Andrew McCutchen was 0-for-5 on the night and is 1-for-9 in the series with a triple and 2 RBI’s.
— Garrett Jones is giving the Pirates all the more reasons to add some pop to the lineup. Jones was 0-for-4 on the night and is 1-for-18 in his last 6 games. The Pirates have been hopeful for him to pick things up this month.
Ronny Cedeno (concussion) is targeting next weeks series against the St. Louis Cardinals for a return. Cedeno is going through workouts and will begin a short rehab stint.
Cedeno is expected to be given every opportunity to earn his starting job back.
With Pedro Alvarez not expected to be coming up for a while, Chase d’Arnaud is expected to slide over to third base.
— Steve Pearce went 2-for-4 with an RBI, double and 1 run scored for Triple-A Indianaplis tonight. Pearce is 5-for-14 (.357) with 1 home run, 3 RBI’s, double and 3 runs scored in three games….
Pedro Alvarez went 1-for-4 at the plate with 2 RBI’s tonight. Alvarez is batting .233 with 0 home runs and 5 RBI’s for Triple-A Indy.
Alvarez is 2-for-11 with 2 RBI’s, 0 extra base hits and 6 strikeouts in his last 3 games….