The Houston Astros look to bounce back from a disappointing season opener when they continue their three-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.
Houston (0-1) closer Brad Lidge gave up Xavier Nady's game-tying solo home run in the ninth inning Monday, and Chad Qualls gave up a two-run shot to Jason Bay in the 10th as the Pirates won 4-2. The blown save was especially frustrating for Lidge, whose confidence has been questioned ever since he gave up a homer to St. Louis' Albert Pujols in the fifth game of the 2005 NL championship series."It's not a nightmare," said Lidge, who posted a gaudy 5.28 ERA with six blown saves in 2006. "Honestly, the guy hit a good pitch tonight. I felt good out there and it's an unfortunate result. The reality is ... I still feel confident. So I'm not going to worry about tonight."Astros right fielder Luke Scott, who beat out Jason Lane in spring training for a spot in the starting lineup, hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning. However, Carlos Lee, who signed a six-year, $100 million contract as a free agent in January, went 0-for-4 in his Astros debut.Nate McLouth added a pinch-hit homer in the eighth inning for the Pirates, and starter Zach Duke lasted seven innings."We got great pitching," said manager Jim Tracy, who is hoping to guide his team to a winning record for the first time in 15 seasons. "And something that has eluded us all year last year showed up here on the first day (and) that is some big at-bats at the right time."Ian Snell will look to give the Pirates (1-0) another strong start on Tuesday. The 25-year-old right-hander led Pittsburgh with 14 wins and 169 strikeouts last season, while dropping 11 decisions and earning a 4.74 ERA in 32 starts.Snell went 1-2 with a 5.94 ERA in three starts against the Astros in 2006, and is 2-3 with a 4.55 ERA in six career appearances, including five starts, versus Houston.The Astros will counter with Jason Jennings, whom they acquired in a December trade with Colorado to serve as their No. 2 starter."To be here with these guys and have a chance to legitimately make the playoffs and get deep into the playoffs is a welcome feeling," Jennings said.The right-hander posted a career-best 3.78 ERA last season, but went just 9-13 due to poor run support. The Rockies were shut out in four of his starts and scored just one run in five other losses.Still the 2002 NL rookie of the year departed Colorado as the franchise leader in wins (58), starts (156) and shutouts (3).Jennings is 1-5 with a 6.11 ERA in seven starts against the Pirates. He has lost all three of his career starts at Minute Maid Park, compiling a 10.47 ERA in those outings.