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Pirates' Duke stays undefeated despite shaky outing

HOUSTON (AP) -- Pittsburgh manager Lloyd McClendon saw Rob
Mackowiak's errant throw hit a blue padding, the umpires ruled it
hit the green wall in the camera well.

That difference allowed Adam Everett to score the go-ahead run
in the eighth inning of the Houston Astros' 6-5 victory over the
Pirates on Friday night, their first come-from-behind victory after
the seventh this season.

Morgan Ensberg hit a tying home run three batters before Everett
scored on Mackowiak's throwing error.

"There's a TV camera in there and about six inches back is a
green board," Everett said. "I saw the ball go in and bounce out.
The umpire got it right."

After Ensberg homered off Rick White (3-5), Everett singled.
Chris Burke then singled to right and Mackowiak threw wildly to
third base trying to get Everett. The ball went into the TV well
next to the dugout and Everett was awarded home plate.

McClendon vehemently argued the call for several minutes to no
avail.

"I saw the ground rules one way and they saw it another,"
McClendon said. "They say it hit some green sign over there. I
never saw it. I thought it hit the blue area [in front].

"If it hits on the railing or padding and it comes back it
should be in play, but they said it hit the green thing.

Pirates third baseman Freddy Sanchez knew he should have caught
the ball.

"I kind of had to make a decision," he said. "You've got to
gamble and I did. I tried to make a quick tag. If I had caught it,
I thought we had a good chance to get him out, but I gambled and
tried to make the tag too quickly."

Houston was 0-42 in games when they trailed after the seventh
before Friday.

"I think one-run games make teams," Ensberg said. "If we had
lost this game, it would have been very bad. But we won and we were
just super happy."

Dan Wheeler (2-3) allowed one run on one hit in the eighth, and
Brad Lidge pitched the ninth for his 29th save in 32 chances.

Pittsburgh rookie Zach Duke made his eighth start of the season
since being called up from Triple-A Indianapolis July 1 and
remained undefeated (5-0), but he trailed for the second time in
his career when the Astros scored two runs in the first inning.
Duke trailed the Dodgers before winning 9-4 last Saturday.

In four innings, Duke gave up four runs on eight hits and three
walks, striking out two.

"His sinker was not working," McClendon said. "He left the
ball up. But he battled.

"He's a 22-year-old rookie. He'll bounce back fine," McClendon
added.

Roy Oswalt allowed four runs on 10 hits and two walks in seven
innings, and is 0-1 with two no-decisions in his last three starts
after winning eight of his previous nine. He has allowed at least
nine hits and three runs in each of the last three starts.

Jason Lane was 3-for-5 with three RBI for the Astros, who
remained 1½ games ahead of Philadelphia in the NL wild-card race.

Pittsburgh has lost five straight to Houston.

In the first, Craig Biggio doubled in Willy Taveras, and one out
later, Lane's single scored Biggio for the 2-0 lead.

The Pirates closed the lead to a run in the fourth when Brad
Eldred hit his third home run of the year.

Lane's two-run double in the fourth made it 4-1.

Jason Bay drove in Sanchez with a single to bring the Pirates to
4-2 in the sixth inning.

In the seventh, pinch-hitter Nate McLouth got his first major
league hit and RBI with a double to left to drive in Jack Wilson
and narrow the Astros lead to 4-3.

Two outs later, Mackowiak drove in McLouth with a single to tie
the game at 4.

Jose Castillo homered on the second pitch he saw from reliever
Wheeler in the eighth to give the Pirates a 5-4 lead.

Game notes
Oswalt had two hits in the game, the seventh time he has
done that in his career. ... Everett ended an 0-for-12 string with
his eighth-inning single. ... Pittsburgh has lost 21 of the last 25
games it has played in Houston dating to July 25, 2002. ... Bay has
reached base in 27 consecutive games. ... Mean Joe Greene, L.C.
Greenwood, Dwight White and Ernie Holmes of the Pittsburgh Steelers
Steel Curtain defense of the 1970s threw out ceremonial first
pitches before the game.