Lofton belted a two-run homer and extended his hitting streak to 14 games as the Pirates snapped a 10-game skid against the Astros with a 3-2 triumph.
Jeff D'Amico yielded just four hits and tied a career high with 10 strikeouts in seven scoreless innings for Pittsburgh, which had lost 10 of its last 11 overall.
"It was probably the best that I've pitched," D'Amico said. "You'd even have to go back to last year."
"D'Amico really pitched a strong game," Houston manager
said. "He changed speeds, he was getting his breaking ball over. He was really working out there tonight."
D'Amico (3-4), who entered with a 1-3 record and a 6.38 ERA in five games against Houston, surrendered five runs and 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings Friday in a loss to Arizona.
"I can't say enough about Jeff D'Amico today," Lofton said. "He kept them off-balance. All we had to do was give him some run support."
Neither team scored until the bottom of the fifth inning, when D'Amico drew a one-out walk from Astros starter
(1-5) and Lofton followed with a home run that barely cleared the wall in left field.
Lofton's hitting streak is the Pirates' longest since
John Vander Wal
hit in 16 straight games in 2000.
"It's not a surprise that I hit to the opposite field," Lofton said. "I've done it before."
"Maybe we can get on a streak now,"
said. "We had to win the first win, and I guess the way we've been playing, you can call one win a streak."
It was the Pirates' ninth victory in 30 games, while Houston lost for just the third time in 13 contests.
"In a month, you guys will be saying, `I told you so,'" beleaguered Pirates manager
told reporters. "We have some quality people in that locker room. They play their (butts) off. Before the game today, I told them to stand up. This was a very hard ballgame against a very good team against a very good pitcher. We had some quality at-bats."
Houston nearly scored first as Miller led off the third with a single and
doubled him to third. But D'Amico struck out
and, after intentionally walking Bagwell, struck out Kent and got Berkman to pop out.
"Blum's a pretty tough hitter," D'Amico said. "I was able to get him, walked Bagwell and Kent swung at a bad pitch and then was able to get Berkman to pop up. That inning was the key to the game."
"(Intentionally walking Bagwell) was a risky thing to do, but Bagwell has had some success against Jeff," McClendon said. "You're picking your poison. Tonight Jeff D'Amico was pretty good."
Miller allowed three runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings.
"Miller pitched good,"
said. "The guy gives up an opposite-field, inside-the-foul-pole home run ... you tip your hat to (Lofton)."
"I thought that I threw well," Miller added. "I was a little wild early, going in a tough game with a pitcher who was throwing well as well. Lofton just went to the opposite side. It barely made it in. Outside of that, we're still playing."