Apr 11, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Houston Astros right fielder Kyle Tucker (30) beats a tag by Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Ji Hwan Bae (3) as he steals second base during the fourth inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
Houston Astros lose heartbreaker to Pirates 7-4 on a walk-off home run
The Houston Astros lost in devastating fashion to the Pittsburgh Pirates, 7-4, on Tuesday evening.
After the Astros (5-7) overcame a two-run deficit in the top of the ninth inning, the Pirates walked it off with a three-run home run to right center field from Ji Hwan Bae.
Pitching struggles plague Astros late
Houston starting pitcher Cristian Javier pitched six full innings, allowed four earned runs, and gave up five hits against Pittsburgh. Javier threw 96 pitches, 57 of which were strikes.
The Pirates took advantage of Javier in the sixth inning. Designated hitter Ji Man Choi hit a solo home run to give the Pirates a 3-2 lead.
Ke’Bryan Hayes kept it going for Pittsburgh with a double. He later stole third base, which allowed him to score on a sacrifice fly by Canaan Smith-Njigba, making it 4-2 in favor of the Pirates. Javier also gave up a two-run home run to Jack Suwinski, who launched Javier’s pitch over the right field wall in the second inning.
Ryne Stanek, Rafael Montero, and Ryan Pressly pitched in relief for Houston. Stanek pitched the seventh inning for the Astros, did not allow a hit, and struck out Bae. Montero pitched the eighth inning.
Even though he gave up hits to Bryan Reynolds and Hayes, Montero did not allow the Pirates to convert them into additional runs. He struck out Choi and Smith-Njigba.
Pressly, however, was not able to keep the Pirates at bay. Following Houston’s two-run rally in the ninth inning, which was capped off by Chas McCormick’s line-drive double that tied the game, the Astros closer gave up a single to Rodolfo Castro.
After striking out Suwinski, Andrew McCutchen reached base with a single of his own. With runners at first and second, the stage was set for Bae, who smashed Pressly’s pitch 403 feet to right-center field and walked it off for the Pirates.
Astros offense stalls, then comes alive
Houston scored single runs in the first and second innings against Pittsburgh. Both came via the long ball. Third baseman Alex Bregman got the Astros on the board first with a home run in the first inning. Right fielder Kyle Tucker launched a solo home run in the second, which gave Houston a 2-0 edge.
The Astros were then kept off the board for the next six innings and seemed like they were going to be held at two runs until the ninth. Mauricio Dubón reached first base after a throwing error by Castro. David Hensley, who pinch hit for Martín Maldonaldo, singled on a ground ball that moved Dubón to second base.
McCormick, who started in left field on Tuesday, doubled on a line drive down the left field line that plated both Dubón and Hensley to tie the game.
After Bregman grounded out, Pittsburgh intentionally walked Yordan Alvarez to put runners on first and second again. This time, however, pitcher David Bednar was able to strike out Jose Abreu keeping the game tied at four.
News and Notes
•Bregman got his first extra-base hit of the season on Tuesday when he hit a solo home run in the first inning.
•The Astros have yet to win more than two games in a row this season.
•Houston Astros activated left-handed pitcher Blake Taylor from the 15-day injured list and optioned him to the Sugar Land Space Cowboys on Tuesday.
The third and final game of the series between the Astros and Pirates will be on Wednesday. First pitch is slated for 11:35 a.m. CT. Jose Urquidy (0-0) is expected on the mound for Houston. Rich Hill (0-1) is slated to get the start against the Astros.