The Pirates survived a ninth-inning threat to get a 4-3 win in the opener of a three-game series in Houston. The Bucs needed four pitchers to get through the inning, but the Astros came up short.
Jim Bibby dominated the Astros through eight innings. He gave up only four hits and a walk in that time. The only run against him came on a two-out double by Cesar Cedeno in the bottom of the sixth.
Bibby did have to get out of a couple of jams early. In the first, a walk and a single put runners at the corners with one out, but Jose Cruz grounded back to the box and Bibby started a double play. In the second, Enos Cabell reached third with nobody out on a single, steal and wild pitch. But Bibby fanned the next two hitters and got a popup.
The three outs in the second started a stretch of 14 straight batters retired. That ended with a single by Terry Puhl and Cedeno’s double. Bibby then retired the side in the seventh and eighth.
The sixth-inning run left the Pirates ahead 3-1, thanks largely to Omar Moreno. They’d gotten on the board in the third against Joaquin Andujar when a two-out triple by Moreno plated Rennie Stennett. Moreno set up two more runs in the fifth with a double that moved Stennett, who’d walked, to third. Tim Foli popped up, but Dave Parker singled in both runners.
The Pirates tacked on an insurance run in the top of the eighth, one that ultimately proved crucial. Stennett was again involved. Singles by John Milner and Bill Madlock, and a fly ball, put Milner on third. Stennett brought him in with a sacrifice fly.
The score remained 4-1 into the bottom of the ninth. Once again, Puhl singled and Cedeno doubled, this time putting runners at second and third. Chuck Tanner brought Grant Jackson in to face the left-handed Jose Cruz. Jackson got him on a fly ball that didn’t advance any runners.
With right-hander Enos Cabell coming up, Tanner went with Enrique Romo. That didn’t go so well. Romo balked in a run and, after getting Cabell to ground out, gave up a run-scoring single to Denny Walling. Another single and a walk loaded the bases with the Pirates up 4-3.
Tanner went to Kent Tekulve to face pinch hitter Reggie Baldwin. Teke finally ended the inning by inducing a comebacker. He picked up his 12th save while Bibby improved to 4-2. The Bucs remain in fourth place, but gained a half game on the idle Expos, now trailing them by six and a half games.