The Bucs completed their first four-game sweep of a team tonight since May 29th-June 1st, 2006 when they swept the Brewers. Granted this sweep came against a pretty bad Astros team, but four wins in a row is impressive no matter who it’s against. The win put the Pirates ten games over .500, and ensured they’d be alone in first place for at least another day.
Jeff Karstens was incredible on the mound, carving up the Astros hitters all night. He was in complete control of his curveball, making batters look horrible at the plate. He allowed a leadoff single to Jose Altuve, and went on to only give up three more all game. Karstens struck out the side in the second – three of his eight strikeouts.
Garrett Jones led off the second with a double high off of the RF wall, and Casey McGehee followed with a bloop double that just landed fair down the RF line, and the Bucs took a 1-0 lead against Bud Norris. Pedro Alvarez moved him over to third groundout, but the bottom of the order couldn’t get him home.
Karstens laced a single on the seventh pitch of his at-bat to lead off the third, and Neil Walker hit a book-rule double to put runners on the corners with one out. Cutch walked (not intentionally) and Jones hit a deeeep fly ball into the North Side Notch. It stayed in the park, but scored a run for a sac-fly to make it 2-0.
Karstens continued to pitch efficiently, and the Bucs had a chance to add in the fifth. A double and a walk put two on with no outs, but Cutch lined out and Drew Sutton was picked off second. That would be all the offense for either team, with both pitchers matching scoreless innings for the rest of the game.
Joel Hanrahan came in to close in the ninth, although Karstens was still only at 89 pitches. His struggles continued as he walked the leadoff batter. He was able to roll and double play, but walked another batter. Chris Johnson flew out to shallow right, and Jones squeezed it to raise the Jolly Roger and complete the sweep.
The Giants come to town next for a weekend series. Cincinnati lost tonight so the Pirates are now two full games up in first place.
Pirates (46-36) – Astros (32-51)
Win: Karstens (2-2)
Loss: Norris (5-6)
Save: Hanrahan (22)