PITTSBURGH (AP) — Carlos Lee’s two-run homer in the first inning helped Roy Oswalt bounce back from the worst start of his career, and the Houston Astros beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-1 Friday night.
The Pirates’ seventh straight loss dropped them into last place in the NL Central for the first time this season.
Pittsburgh loaded the bases with one out in the ninth before Astros reliever Brad Lidge struck out Matt Kata. Freddy Sanchez then struck out on a pitch that bounced — catcher Brad Ausmus scrambled to recover and tagged the plate with the ball in his bare hand to force out Rajai Davis.
Lidge, closing again for Houston, held on for his second save since Tuesday after not converting any of his first four attempts.
Oswalt (9-6) lost an apparent RBI single on an unusual play in the seventh inning, but didn’t lose the game as he limited the Pirates to one run over six-plus innings to beat them for the fifth consecutive time.
Oswalt’s 107th career win moved him past Nolan Ryan and tied him with J.R. Richard for fourth place on Houston’s career list.
The Pirates might’ve been the best possible opponent for Oswalt to face after he allowed a career-high eight earned runs and 10 hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 9-3 loss Saturday to the Cubs. The right-hander is 11-5 against Pittsburgh and hasn’t lost to them in seven starts since April 25, 2005.
The Pirates are 0-7, and 0-4 at home, since winning nine of 13 before the All-Star break. This time, they wasted an excellent start by Tom Gorzelanny (9-5), who pitched six shutout innings after yielding Lee’s 19th homer four batters into the game.