HOUSTON -- Well over 100 pitches after eight innings, Wandy Rodriguez was determined to stay on the mound.
After all, he reasoned to Houston Astros pitching coach Dewey Robinson, he was about to get a week off.He got his wish, pitching a five-hitter and tying a career high by striking out 11 as the Astros beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-0 on Wednesday.
Bringin' the Heat
Houston starter Wandy Rodriguez's fastball had a lot of life on Wednesday. Rodriguez's heater moved an average of 2.11 inches more horizontally compared to the rest of 2009 and no Pirate reached base against his fastball with two strikes.
Avg. horizontal movement
"I have vacation, so I said, 'I want to finish the game,'" Rodriguez said, referring to his time off for the All-Star break. "I felt strong, too."The 30-year-old Rodriguez threw his second career complete game, having shut out the New York Mets two years ago.He needed a career-high 125 pitches to finish this one, topping the 122 he threw in 2006."I thought the fastball had a lot of life today," Astros manager Cecil Cooper said. "We started out the day today by throwing strike one quite a bit. When Wandy can throw strike one with his fastball, he could be a dominating kind of pitcher. He's got that kind of stuff."Rodriguez (8-6) won his third straight decision. The lefty is only one victory behind his total from last season. He's battled inconsistency in his career but said a game like this helps increase his confidence.Lance Berkman doubled twice and drove in a pair of runs. The Astros won two of three, leaving the Pirates without a road series victory since May 18-21.Charlie Morton (1-2), traded last month in the deal that sent Nate McLouth to the Atlanta Braves, struggled in giving up five runs and 10 hits in four innings. In his previous outing, he earned his first win with the Pirates by pitching six scoreless innings."It was one of those games where they got to him," Pirates manager John Russell said. "But I still really like his stuff and he should be fine."Rodriguez gave up a pair singles with one out in the second before retiring the next 10 batters. He didn't allow another hit until Ramon Vazquez singled with two outs in the fifth."He threw the ball really well, located his fastball and his breaking ball was really effective," Russell said. "The difference in speed, it was 91-93 [mph] and his breaking balls were 76-77, which is a big difference. It keeps you off-balance."Delwyn Young singled with two outs in the ninth before Rodriguez struck out Garrett Jones to end the game. The crowd of more than 29,000 rose to its feet and cheered loudly."When I [saw] that I had nine strikeouts, I said, 'Hey, I can do two more,'" he said. "So that's what I did."Michael Bourn had a run-scoring triple, Carlos Lee had an RBI double and Miguel Tejada drove in a run for the Astros, who finished with 13 hits.Bourn tripled in the third and scored on a single by Tejada to put Houston ahead 1-0. Berkman followed with a double, but Tejada was thrown out at the plate. Lee's double made it 2-0.Bourn hit an RBI single in the fourth. Tejada singled to load the bases before Berkman's double to right field scored Rodriguez and Bourn.
Retired Panamanian boxing star Roberto Duran attended the game and threw out the first pitch. Duran is perhaps best known for defeating Sugar Ray Leonard in a 15-round decision for the WBC welterweight title in 1980. ... Pittsburgh second baseman Freddy Sanchez missed his sixth consecutive start with back spasms. He is expected to return on Friday against the Philadelphia Phillies. ... Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit, on the disabled list with a wrist injury, is 0-for-17 in five rehabilitation games in the minors after going 0-for-5 with a walk as the designated hitter for Triple-A Indianapolis on Tuesday. ... Pittsburgh optioned right-hander Steven Jackson and infielder Steve Pearce to Indianapolis and activated left-hander Donnie Veal from the disabled list after Wednesday's game. The Pirates will announce the corresponding move to Pearce's spot Friday.