National League Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, July 29th (All times eastern)
Pittsburgh Pirates (58-42) at Houston Astros (34-68), 2:05 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Pittsburgh - James McDonald (10-4, 3.15) Houston - Lucas Harrell (7-7, 4.07)
(Sports Network) - James McDonald had his career-high five-game winning string stopped his last time out. The Pittsburgh right-hander tries to start a new streak this afternoon and extend Houston's franchise-record 12-game skid when the teams complete a four-game series at Minute Maid Park.
The Bucs haven't swept a four-game series in Houston since Apr. 7-10, 1983, but they have taken nine of the 10 meetings this season, including nine a row.
McDonald's most recent start resulted in a 5-1 loss to the Cubs on Tuesday. He threw six innings in that game, but has still won eight of his last 10 decisions. The Pirates have scored a total of one run in his four losses this season.
Over eight career games (7 starts) against Houston, McDonald is 3-2 with a 2.66 ERA.
Lucas Harrell hasn't won in his last four start, going 0-1 in that stretch. In fact, he has just one victory over his last seven outings, that coming June 27 versus San Diego, a six-hit shutout for his only career complete game.
Harrell gave up nine hits and five runs over five frames in a no-decision against the Bucs on July 3.
Last night, Rod Barajas knocked in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning in a 4-3 final.
The Astros' loss established a new club record for futility, as they had previously dropped 11 straight in 1995.
Alex Presley and Neil Walker clubbed solo home runs for the Pirates, who have won four straight games and 16 of their last 22. Garrett Jones added two hits in the victory.
Chris Resop (1-3) earned the win with a scoreless inning of relief behind starter -- and former Astro -- Wandy Rodriguez, who went six solid innings and allowed three runs on six hits and five walks in his Pirates debut.
"I thought he navigated through traffic very well," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said about Rodriguez. "I thought he was probably excited to go out there and pitch. I've never seen him walk five in a game in however many years I've watched him pitch."
With Joel Hanrahan, the league-leader in saves, unavailable, the Pirates went to Jason Grill. He tossed a perfect ninth to lock down his second save of the season.
Justin Maxwell ripped a two-run triple and Carlos Corporan added an RBI single in the loss. Chuckie Fick (0-1) was tagged with the loss after allowing a run on two hits and a walk in one inning.
The Pirates have hit at least one home run in 18 consecutive road games.
07/29 10:23:14 ET