hadn't pitched seven innings during one of his starts since August. He finally showed some efficiency Saturday night and was
rewarded with a win.
Karstens allowed two runs and six hits in seven solid innings to win for the first time in more than a month and the
, snapping a three-game skid with a 7-4 victory over the
''He threw the ball extremely well,'' Pirates manager
said. ''His pitch count was very low, and he was extremely efficient. He used his off-speed pitches very well and kept them
off-balance. He gave us a quality start.''
went 3 for 3 and reached base four times for the Pirates, who had lost six of eight. They are fifth in the NL Central, two
games in front of the last-place Astros.
doubled twice and drove in two runs to extend his hitting streak to an Astros season-high 13 games. Houston has lost eight
''That's a guy that has a pretty high ERA (5.19 coming into the game), and he usually doesn't go more than five or six innings,''
said. ''But we just couldn't get a whole lot going.''
Rodriguez, conversely, entered leading the NL with a 1.71 ERA. But was tagged for five runs and nine hits in 4 2-3 innings,
his ERA climbing to 2.26.
Trailing by five heading into the ninth, the Astros loaded the bases against
, prompting Russell to call on closer
. He hit Tejada with a pitch and walked
to make it 7-4, but retired
on a grounder for his 10th save.
Capps was making his first appearance since being hit squarely on the elbow by a line drive Monday in Chicago.
''It was very big for me personally,'' Capps said. ''I went through a lot of different emotions when it first happened. Thinking
what I thought then, to be able to be throwing two days later and be back out on the mound five days later, it's big for me.''
Karstens (2-2) threw only 87 pitches, walking one and striking out four to win for the first time since April 21, his second
start of the season. Pittsburgh had lost in four of his five outings since.
''It was only a matter of time,'' Karstens said. ''It was, what, my ninth outing? It was bound to happen sometime. But I think
there's still some work to be done.''
Karstens, who said he threw 19 of 27 first-pitch strikes, produced his fourth quality start of the season. He has been the
team's fifth starter this year.
''I think this all started when I knew every game my job was on the line,'' Karstens said. ''I wasn't pitching well, and it
was more of a reality check.''
Using a lineup that was without three lefty-hitting regulars (
), the Pirates jumped on Rodriguez (5-4) immediately.
The left-hander walked leadoff batter
, and the next four batters singled. Morgan scored on
's base hit and
came around on
Two batters later,
hit a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0.
''Our pitching's been doing well lately, and we haven't been producing runs like we should be,''
said. ''It's great to give them a little cushion there starting off the game.''
Rodriguez was charged with as many earned runs in that inning as he had in his past four starts combined.
''I missed my location in the first inning,'' Rodriguez said. ''That is my problem: location.''
Houston got a run in the third when Tejada doubled in
drove in Lee with a double in the fourth.
Two-out RBI singles by
and Diaz in the fifth gave Pittsburgh a 5-2 lead.
Pinch-hitter Moss doubled in
, and LaRoche drove in Moss in the eighth to pad the lead to five. Notes: Sanchez has 14 hits in his past 22 at-bats after
going 2 for 4 with a walk. ... Rodriguez entered with a 0.88 ERA in night games, also the best mark in the league. ... Monroe
has hit safely in all but two of his 13 starts. ... Houston's
allowed two runs in the eighth - his first appearance out of the bullpen since 2005.