Homer-happy Bucs crush Astros again
Former Astro Musgrove throws six scoreless innings
HOUSTON — Rap music spilled out of the doors of the Pittsburgh Pirates clubhouse and muffled but joyful chants could be heard above the tunes.
The Pirates took a minute to celebrate on Thursday after a second straight rout handed the Houston Astros their first home series loss of the season.
Josh Bell homered for the second straight game as one of five home runs by Pittsburgh as the Pirates cruised to a 10-0 win on Thursday.
Manager Clint Hurdle was asked what it meant to his team to play so well against such a good team.
“You can hear them,” he said motioning toward the clubhouse as the sounds of celebration seeped into his office.
Former Astro Joe Musgrove (6-7) threw six scoreless innings for the win and Kevin Newman, Corey Dickerson, Starling Marte and Jacob Stallings added home runs for the Pirates to send Houston to its ninth loss in 11 games.
“Top-shelf pitching the last two days and hard contact at the plate the last two days,” Hurdle said. “We ran the bases well. We made good contact. It was fun to watch our team compete and come out and win a series.”
The Pirates picked up where they left off in Wednesday night’s 14-2 rout of Houston when Newman sent Brad Peacock’s first pitch of the game into the seats in left field for his first career leadoff homer. He has a career-long 17-game hitting streak, which is the longest active streak in the majors.
Peacock (6-6) allowed six runs in three innings, a game after Framber Valdez also made an early exit after the Pirates jumped on him for six runs through the first three.
“It really started from the very beginning. He didn’t really have a feel for many pitches and didn’t execute and he had a tough day,” manager AJ Hinch said of Peacock.
There were two outs in the first inning when an RBI double by Colin Moran made it 2-0. Pittsburgh extended the lead to 4-0 when Dickerson, who tied a career high with four hits on Wednesday, homered to left field.
Marte started the third with a bunt single before Bell launched his 22nd homer onto the concourse in left-center to make it 6-0.
Marte opened the fifth inning with a home run off Cy Sneed, who was making his major league debut, and Stallings collected his first career home run when he added a solo shot with one out in the sixth.
He received a shower of a variety of liquids including soda and mouthwash from excited teammates after the game to commemorate his first homer.
“That’s fun,” he said. “It’s nice to see your teammates care about you so much and that’s why I play the game.”
Musgrove, traded to the Pirates in the deal that brought Gerrit Cole to Houston, picked up the win for the Astros in relief in Game 5 of the 2017 World Series.
“Selfishly it’s always nice to come in against your old team and throw well,” Musgrove said. “To get the win is awesome. But I think the more important thing is how we’re playing as a team right now. To have an offensive outburst against a really good team like this it’s good momentum.”
He allowed nine hits in his first meeting with his former team, but they were all singles to allow him to keep Houston off the board.
“I don’t know how many times you’ll see a guy give up nine singles and nobody hits the plate,” Hurdle said. “So he made pitches throughout. He limited the barrel. He limited hard contact.”
The Astros remain firmly in first place in the AL West, but are in the midst of a tough stretch where their pitching outside of Justin Verlander and Cole has struggled. Houston went 1-6 on a road trip against Cincinnati and the New York Yankees, before losing two of three in this series.
Jacob Stallings added an RBI single for Pittsburgh in the eighth and Newman made it 10-0 with a run-scoring double.
Sneed allowed seven hits and four runs in six innings to save Houston’s taxed bullpen after being called up from Triple-A Round Rock before the game.
Astros: LF Yordan Alvarez left the game after the third inning because of discomfort in his left knee. Hinch said he received an MRI and that they’re awaiting the results. … RHP Joe Smith (Achilles tendon) will pitch at Round Rock on Friday as he continues a rehabilitation assignment.
Thursday was the third time this season that Bell has homered in consecutive games. His 70 RBIs and 54 extra-base hits lead the majors and his 22 home runs are the most before the All-Star break by a switch hitter in the National League since Houston’s Lance Berkman had 24 in 2011.
Pirates: RHP Chris Archer (3-6, 5.56 ERA) will start for Pittsburgh in the opener of a three-game series at Milwaukee tonight. Archer allowed just two hits and one run in five innings in his previous game against San Diego but did not factor in the decision.
Astros: LHP Wade Miley (6-4, 3.51) is scheduled to start for Houston to start a series against Seattle tonight. Miley allowed four runs in five innings in a loss to the Yankees in his previous start.