Series: Game 1 of 2

Pittsburgh leads 1-0 (as of 4/28)

Game 1: Tuesday, April 27
Game 1: Wednesday, April 28
Game 2: Thursday, April 29

Astros 2

(11-9, 7-3 away)

Pirates 4

(9-10, 4-6 home)

    7:05 PM ET, April 28, 2004

    PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 

    123456789 R H E
    HOU 001000100 2 8 1
    PIT 10001002 - 4 7 0

    W: S. Torres (1-0)

    L: R. Oswalt (2-1)

    S: J. Mesa (6)

    Mondesi breaks tie with RBI double in eighth

    PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The Pittsburgh Pirates must be wondering where all this has been: a big hit in the late innings, an excellent start by Josh Fogg and Tike Redman generating runs on the bases.

    Raul Mondesi hit a tiebreaking double in the eighth inning and Fogg shook off three consecutive terrible starts to lead the Pirates past the Houston Astros 4-2 on Wednesday night.

    Mondesi ended an 0-for-17 Pirates streak with runners in scoring position with his two-run double down the left-field line off Roy Oswalt (2-1). Jack Wilson started the Pirates' eighth with a single, and Jason Kendall walked.

    "I'd been looking for a curveball the entire game and I finally got it," Mondesi said. "When you get the opportunity there, you have to come through."

    Oswalt spent his last four innings trying to get his pitches down, but manager Jimy Williams didn't think about taking him out because he still was pitching effectively.

    "It wasn't a bad pitch (to Mondesi), just a little higher than I wanted," Oswalt said. "I changed mechanics the last inning to try to get it down, but I never got it down. I spent four innings throwing chest-high."

    Fogg can relate to that. He brought one of the majors' worst ERAs -- a remarkably high 17.00 -- into the game, before limiting Houston to two runs in seven innings. Oswalt gave up four runs and seven hits in seven-plus innings, ending a seven-game winning streak dating to last season.

    "I got to see the third, fourth and fifth innings again," Fogg said. "It had been a while. It's tough when you have to wait five, six or seven days after a poor start to pitch again, but you can't get disappointed or down on yourself."

    Salomon Torres (1-0) followed Fogg with a scoreless eighth for the victory, and Jose Mesa pitched the ninth for his sixth save in as many opportunities.

    Mesa was helped by center fielder Redman's excellent sliding catch on Richard Hidalgo's one-out drive into the left-center gap that initially appeared would go for extra bases.

    "It kept carrying and carrying, I don't know how it did it," said Redman, who also figured in each of the Pirates' first two runs. "In the late innings, you don't want to give up a double or triple there."

    Fogg didn't retire any of the six batters he faced in a 12-1 loss to the Cubs on April 21, and had allowed 15 runs in nine innings over his three starts. He was so pitching so poorly, the Pirates took the unusual step of having him throw two simulated games between starts, something most pitchers do only during spring training.

    The extra sessions must have worked as Fogg struck out four and walked three while lowering his ERA to 10.69 in his best start since his complete-game 9-1 victory over Cincinnati on Sept. 8.

    "Certainly, we saw the pitcher we're used to seeing," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "He threw strikes, he pitched down in the strike zone, had good action on his pitches and changed speeds on his breaking stuff."

    The Pirates won for only the second time in seven games on a homestand against the division-rival Cubs, Reds and Astros. Houston dropped its fifth in seven games and its second in a row on the road, where the Astros were 7-1 before losing Sunday at Colorado.

    Redman had an on-base percentage of only .238 and was 0-for-11 before he singled to start the first. Oswalt immediately threw the ball away on an attempted pickoff throw for a two-base error, allowing Redman to score on Kendall's groundout.

    The Astros' Raul Chavez doubled and came home on Adam Everett's one-out sacrifice fly in the third. The Pirates retook the lead at 2-1 on Redman's run-scoring grounder in the fifth after Bobby Hill and Chris Stynes both singled.

    Fogg was denied the decision when the Astros tied it in the seventh on Hidalgo's leadoff double and Chavez's run-scoring single.

    Game notes

    Mondesi has 12 hits in his last 29 at-bats (.414). ... Jeff Kent was 4-for-7 with two homers against Fogg before going 0-for-3. Kent returned to the lineup after not starting two games in Colorado because of a sore right quadriceps. ... Fogg is 3-1 with a 3.43 ERA in seven career starts against Houston. ... The Pirates had lost six of nine. ... Jeff Bagwell is 1-for-13 on the Astros' road trip. His 129 career RBI against Pittsburgh are the most by any NL player.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press