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News » Berkman's 3-run HR launches a win streak Tie-breaking blast in 6th lifts Astros over Bucs ASTROS: Relievers get the job done


Berkman's 3-run HR launches a win streak Tie-breaking blast in 6th lifts Astros over Bucs ASTROS: Relievers get the job done


Berkman's 3-run HR launches a win streak Tie-breaking blast in 6th lifts Astros over Bucs ASTROS: Relievers get the job done
Astros update

Thu.: Astros 6, Pirates 3.

Record: 3-6.

Today: Cincinnati Reds at Minute Maid Park, 7:05 p.m.

Pitchers: Roy Oswalt (0-2) vs. Johnny Cueto (0-1).

TV/radio: FSH; 740 AM and 1010 AM (Spanish).

ON DECK: CINCINNATI Reds at Astros

When/where: 7:05 p.m. today and Monday, 6:05 p.m. Saturday, 1:05 p.m. Sunday; Minute Maid Park.

TV/radio: All four games on FSH; 740 AM and 1010 AM (Spanish).

Pitchers: Day Astros Reds

Today R. Oswalt (0-2, 6.23) J. Cueto (0-1, 6.00)

Sat. W. Rodriguez (0-1, 3.00) A. Harang (1-1, 0.64)

Sun. TBA E. Volquez (1-1, 9.64)

Mon. M. Hampton (1-1, 2.45) B. Arroyo (2-0, 4.38)

Reds update: Cincinnati's rotation has had only two quality starts and has pitched five innings or fewer four times. ... Team ERA of 5.32 ranked 10th in the NL entering Thursday; the batting average of .222 ranked 16th.

Injuries: Reds, none. Astros , RHPs Brandon Backe (rib-cage muscle), Brian Moehler (sprained knee) and Doug Brocail (strained rotator cuff) are on the 15-day disabled list; IF Aaron Boone (heart surgery) is on the 60-day DL.

PITTSBURGH - Lance Berkman says it's way too early to start lamenting the Astros' struggles with runners in scoring position, gently reminding reporters the season is less than 10 games old.

But there was no diminishing the importance of Berkman's clutch hit in the sixth inning Thursday afternoon against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Berkman belted a three-run homer to left field off Pirates reliever Sean Burnett to break a tie and send the Astros to their second win in a row, 6-3 in the series finale at PNC Park.

The Astros won consecutive games for the first time this season and will begin their 10-game homestand tonight against Cincinnati with some semblance of momentum.

"That was important for us," Berkman said. "We talked about wanting to go home with a good feeling. This is a tough Pirates team.

"Nobody is going to come in here and walk over these guys. This is a good series win, and we need to continue the momentum we establish as we go into a long homestand."

Every player in the starting lineup had a hit for the Astros , including pitcher Russ Ortiz, who drove in a run. Ortiz got a no-decision after giving up five hits and three runs in 42/3 innings in his first start since 2007.

Bullpen by committee

With closer Jose Valverde out with a sore back, the Astros' bullpen pieced together the final 41/3 innings with four relievers pitching in and out of jams. LaTroy Hawkins worked the ninth for the Astros' first save of the year.

"We just have to come out and do the job and pick each other up, and that's what we're doing out there," lefthander Tim Byrdak said. "I was trying to give (Geoff) Geary a day off from pitching, and things worked out."

Lefthander Wesley Wright (1-0) threw three pitches and recorded one out to end the fifth to get the win. But Chris Sampson and Byrdak did most of the heavy lifting for the bullpen.

"This is a ?W' I can share with those guys," Wright said. "Those guys did a lot more than I did over the course of the game. I was just fortunate to be in the game when we took the lead."

Sampson threw 12/3 scoreless innings, getting a double play to end the sixth. His biggest out came after a 17-pitch battle against former National League batting champion Freddy Sanchez in the seventh.

"That was a tough battle, man," Sampson said. "We kind of smiled at one another a couple of times during the at-bat, but that was a lot of fun. Thankfully I came out on top and got him to fly out to Michael Bourn."

Byrdak allowed one hit in 11/3 innings and got a key double play to end the eighth inning before turning the ball over to Hawkins.

"Our bullpen was outstanding," Cooper said. "They kept them at bay, and when you get big swings like that from your big boys you have to make them stand up, and we did today."

Bucs jump out early

Pittsburgh scored twice against Ortiz in the first, but Hunter Pence's home run in the second made it 2-1. Carlos Lee drove in a run on a fielder's choice to get the Astros within 3-2 in the third, and they tied it in the fourth when Jeff Keppinger tripled and scored on Ortiz's two-out single.

"I'm not particularly happy with going 42/3, but we got a win," said Ortiz, who threw 99 pitches. "It's my first start, but I have to do a little better job of letting the ball go and trusting everything and not trying to make perfect pitches."

brian.mctaggart@chron.com


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 18, 2009

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