courtesy of statesman.com
HOUSTON (AP) , Drew Sutton scored on a wild pitch in the ninth inning to propel the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 6-5 win over the hapless Houston Astros on Friday night.
The loss was Houston's 11th straight, tying the franchise record for most consecutive losses in a season. The Astros, who have baseball's worst record, (34-67) last lost 11 straight in 1995. They have lost 24 of their last 26 games.
The Astros led 5-4 entering the ninth inning before rookie Starling Marte's bases-loaded sacrifice fly tied it up. A pitch from Xavier Cedeno got away from catcher Chris Snyder and allowed Sutton to score and extend Houston's misery.
It was the third time in the last four games that Houston has lost after entering the ninth inning with a lead.
Tony Watson (5-1) pitched a scoreless eighth for the win and Joel Hanrahan did the same in the ninth for his 31st save.
Alex Presley hit a solo home run for Pittsburgh in the fourth and Michael McKenry, who finished with three hits, connected on a two-run shot in the fifth.
Houston's Chris Johnson came a single short of the cycle and Ben Francisco had a solo homer and drove in two runs for the Astros.
The game was tied at 4-all when Johnson tripled on a ball that rolled up the corner of Tal's Hill in center field with no outs in the seventh. J.D. Martinez's one-out grounder to left field sent Johnson home to put Houston on top.
Johnson doubled in the first inning and had a solo homer in the third before his seventh-inning triple. Johnson walked in the fifth inning, but struck out in his last at-bat in the eighth.
Rhiner Cruz (1-1) came in for Houston with one out in the ninth inning. McKenry singled before Cruz issued consecutive walks to load the bases before Marte's sacrifice fly off Cedeno.
Houston starter Jordan Lyles allowed seven hits and four runs while tying a career-high with eight strikeouts in 6-plus innings.
McKenry doubled to start the seventh inning and chase Lyles. McKenry advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt before tying it at 4-4 on a sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter Josh Harrison.
Pedro Alvarez singled to start the fifth before McKenry's shot to the Crawford Boxes in left field got the Pirates within 4-3.
Francisco hit the third straight single for the Astros in the second inning to drive in a run and put Houston up 1-0.
The Astros added a run in that inning when Justin Maxwell scored on a sacrifice bunt by Lyles. The ball dribbled slightly down the right field line on the play and catcher McKenry came out to grab it. Maxwell evaded his tag and then dived onto home plate to extend the lead to 2-0.
Johnson homered for the second straight game to leave Houston up 3-0 in the third inning.
The Pirates didn't get a hit until Presley's home run to right field with one out in the fourth inning made it 3-1.
Francisco's first home run as an Astro came to start Houston's fourth inning.
Pittsburgh starter Jeff Karstens yielded six hits and four runs with seven strikeouts in five innings. He allowed two home runs on Friday night after allowing just one in his previous eight starts this season.
The Astros had a chance to add to their lead when Karstens loaded the bases with three walks in the fifth inning, but he retired Francisco to escape the jam.
Astros reliever Wesley Wright had a busy eighth inning. He got the first out of the inning, before moving to right field while Wilton Lopez came on to pitch to Andrew McCutchen. Wright, who appeared in right field for the second time in his career, returned to the mound after a double by McCutchen and retired the next two batters to end the inning.