Pirates’ slide continues

Pittsburgh Pirates' Josh Bell tries to field a ball hit by Houston Astros' Jason Castro in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros in Pittsburgh, Monday, Aug. 22, 2016. (AP)

PITTSBURGH (AP) – The Houston Astros got a glimpse of their future while veteran Doug Fister helped keep them in the pennant race in the present.

Fister pitched seven scoreless innings, Teoscar Hernandez hit a two-run homer and the Houston Astros beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-1 on Monday night.

Hernandez connected off fellow rookie Jameson Taillon (3-3) in the fifth inning to break a scoreless tie after A.J. Reed’s leadoff walk. It was the third home run for Hernandez, who was called up from Triple-A Fresno on Aug. 12 to make his major league debut.

“I’m just trying to be patient at the home plate,” Hernandez said. “I’m trying to make adjustments during games to make sure I swing at pitches I can hit. I’m just trying to do the best I can to see the ball well and do some damage.”

Alex Bregman, another Astros rookie, hit his fourth homer in the ninth inning off Neftali Feliz.

“Bregman’s at-bats, even when he doesn’t get hits, are high quality,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “I really like the way he swings the bat. That was real power to center field on the home run.”

Houston won its fourth straight game and Pittsburgh lost its fourth in a row. Both teams are competing for wild-card spots.

Fister (12-8) struck out six, walked one and retired 11 of the first 12 batters. He had allowed nine runs and 11 hits over nine innings in his previous two starts.

“I was just kind of mixing things up,” Fister said. “(Catcher) Jason Castro had a good game plan and it came down to executing it. We had a couple of tricky fly balls and our guys out there wound up running them down. With our outfielders, they’re very athletic and they’ll run down most pitchers’ mistakes.”

Ken Giles got his fourth save despite allowing David Freese’s RBI single in the ninth. Freese was thrown out at second base when he tried to advance on an overthrow to end the game.

“You can’t be out there at second base,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “You’re two runs down. That probably was some emotional baserunning. The only way it works is if you’re safe.”

Taillon (3-3) made his seventh consecutive quality start since being activated from the disabled list July 19. He pitched eight innings, allowing two runs and four hits with a career-high eight strikeouts.

Gregory Polanco had a pair of doubles and scored Pittsburgh’s lone run.


Astros: INF/OF Yulieksi Gurriel grounded out as a pinch-hitter in the eighth a day after leaving his major league debut with right hamstring tightness. Gurriel signed a $47.5 million, five-year contract in July after defecting from Cuba. He is expected to start Tuesday night.

Pirates: RHP Tyler Glasnow (right shoulder soreness) pitched three scoreless innings and threw 57 pitches Monday night in his second rehab start with Double-A Altoona, allowing two hits while striking out six and walking three against Harrisburg in the Eastern League.


Freese signed a two-year, $11 million contract prior the game that takes him through the 2018 season. Freese will make $6.25 million in 2017 and $4.25 million in 2018. There’s a $6 million club option for 2019 or a $500,000 buyout.

Rookie 1B Josh Bell, who was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis on Saturday, made his second straight start. Hurdle said the 24-year-old switch-hitter will see the majority of playing time in place of slumping 1B John Jaso.


Astros: RHP Joe Musgrove (1-1, 4.18 ERA) will make his fourth career start Tuesday night since being called up Aug. 1 from Triple-A Fresno.

Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova (9-6, 4.83) is 2-1 with a 4.41 ERA in three starts since being acquired Aug. 1 from the New York Yankees in a trade.