PITTSBURGH - Kevin Correia and Alex Presley used rare starts to make big contributions for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Correia pitched six solid innings, and Presley had two hits and scored three runs as Pittsburgh beat the Houston Astros, 6-3, on Wednesday night to gain ground in the wild-card race.
"At this time of year, it's all about winning," Presley said. "You need everybody doing everything they can do to help the team win."
Correia stepped into the Pirates' rotation for right-hander Jeff Karstens, who injured his right hip Friday in a start at Milwaukee, and allowed just one run and four hits. Correia also walked one and struck out one.
Correia (10-8) pitched four scoreless innings of relief against the Brewers in the game in which Karstens was injured. Correia began the season in the starting rotation but was bumped to the bullpen when the Pirates acquired left-hander Wandy Rodriguez from the Astros in a trade on July 24.
Houston fell to 53 games under .500 at 42-95.
Presley was playing in place of left fielder Jose Tabata, who bruised his left foot on Tuesday night when he fouled a pitch off it and still felt pain after taking batting practice before Wednesday's game.
Pirates rookie Brock Holt had two RBIs one night after getting four hits in his fourth major league game and Gaby Sanchez had three hits for Pittsburgh, which pulled within 1 games of St. Louis in the race for the second National League wild-card spot.
Correia reached double-digit wins for the fourth consecutive season.
"It's just a number but you do want to win as many games as possible because that's your job as a pitcher," Correia said. "The biggest thing you want to do, though, is give your team a chance to win."
Correia did that Wednesday when the Pirates needed him to come through after the Cardinals lost, 6-2, to the Mets earlier in the day.
"He gave us a very professional effort," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He moved the ball in and out and kept them off balance. It was a good job."
Presley began the season as the Pirates' leadoff hitter but was twice sent down to Triple-A Indianapolis. He returned to the major leagues Friday with no guarantee of playing time.
"I had an inkling I might start because I saw Tabata hobbling around the clubhouse," Presley said. "Finding out late really didn't make a difference because I've started before. I'm just happy I was able to make a contribution."
Hurdle thought the good performance would be a confidence booster for Presley.
"He has to feel good about that," Hurdle said. "Alex can play and Alex can hit. The problem has been finding a consistent rhythm at this level."
Brandon Laird, yet another injury replacement, provided Houston's highlight with his first major league home run, a two-run, two-out shot in the ninth inning off Jason Grilli. Laird took over at third base in the sixth inning when Scott Moore strained his right groin while fielding a bunt by Holt.
Laird struck out swinging in his first at-bat in the seventh inning against Jared Hughes but was more prepared in the ninth.
"Everybody always tells me, be ready and that's what I was," Laird said. "I went in there and the first at-bat chased a couple bad pitches. I just wanted to go up there right there and see it before I swung and that's what I did and got a good swing on it."