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Updated: Tuesday, May 13, 2003 11:25 PM EDT
MLB RECAP
Houston Astros
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
6 12 2
Pittsburgh Pirates
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R H E
3 8 0
W Munro (3-1)
L Williams (0-2)
S Wagner (9)
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HOUSTON 6, PITTSBURGH 3
 

PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- The resurgence of Richard Hidalgo has been nearly as important as the addition of Jeff Kent to the offense of the Houston Astros .

Hidalgo delivered a three-run double with two outs in the ninth inning as the Astros extended their winning streak over the Pittsburgh Pirates to 10 games with a 6-3 victory.

Hidalgo was one of the National League's best hitters in 2000 but saw his numbers decrease steadily over the following two seasons. After surviving an offseason shooting in his home country of Venezuela, the seven-year veteran is becoming a dangerous hitter again.

The 27-year-old outfielder is batting .305 with five homers and 20 RBI in 39 games. He had just 15 homers and 48 RBI in 114 games last season.

"Hidalgo's been very consistent," Houston manager Jimy Williams said. "He's taken it right from the start of the season."

Hidalgo did not start but pinch-hit for Orlando Merced in the eighth inning and struck out. He redeemed himself in the ninth against Pittsburgh closer Mike Williams , who fell apart after retiring the first two batters.

"I usually play every day," Hidalgo said. "Coming off the bench, when I got the second at-bat I concentrated. I hit the ball I wanted to hit."

Williams (0-2) threw two of his first three pitches to Jeff Bagwell for strikes before throwing three straight balls. Kent followed with a bloop single and Williams fell behind 3-0 to Lance Berkman before intentionally issuing ball four to load the bases.

"I got two quick outs but I get myself in trouble," Williams said. "It just seems like this is how things are going."

Hidalgo lined a 2-2 pitch that grazed the glove of right fielder Rob Mackowiak and off the wall to clear the bases for a 6-3 edge.

"I just tried to see the ball pretty good, just wanted him to throw the slider up," Hidalgo said. "I thought the ball was going to be caught. When I saw him jump and he didn't have it, I was pretty happy."

"I really don't know what happened," Mackowiak said. "It was not an easy play. I guess I should've taken a little better route as I look back at it now. I just missed it. I guess little things like that are happening to us."

Houston's Peter Munro (3-1) recorded the victory after pitching a hitless eighth inning.

Billy Wagner struck out two in a perfect ninth and notched his ninth save as the Astros won for the 10th time in 12 games.

"We were lucky tonight against an All-Star closer," Wagner said. "You're used to coming in with no room for error. With only a one-run lead it's a different mind set. With three, you need to throw strikes but not give them too much to hit."

Pittsburgh lost for the 10th time in 11 games after squandering a pair of two-run leads.

"We're going though a rough time," Williams said. "We're losing games every way it seems you can lose them. We're better than the results we're getting."

The Pirates loaded the bases with none out in the third before Brian Giles hit a grounder to Bagwell at first base. Houston starter Tim Redding ran to cover first but dropped the throw and kicked away the ball, allowing two runs to score.

The Astros halved the lead on Jose Vizcaino 's RBI single in the fourth inning, but Kenny Lofton had a run-scoring base hit in the bottom half to give the Pirates a 3-1 edge.

Lofton's base hit extended his hitting streak to 13 games.

Pittsburgh starter Jeff Suppan walked Kent to open the sixth and Berkman singled. After Merced flied out, Vizcaino doubled to right field, scoring both runners and forge a 3-3 tie.

Suppan failed to snap his personal three-game losing streak despite allowing just three runs in seven innings. He struck out six and walked two.


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