PITTSBURGH – After struggling working out of the bullpen in the majors, Brad Lincoln is beginning to show he can be an effective starter.
Ryan Doumit homered and Lincoln, a former No. 4 overall draft pick, had another effective outing, but the Pirates lost for the seventh time in 10 games, 4-1 to the Houston Astros at soggy, chilly PNC Park on Tuesday night.
Lincoln (1-2) allowed two runs and five hits in six innings and has allowed seven runs in four starts since he was moved into the rotation.
"The thing we don't take into account is the kid's grown up a starting pitcher, all his life he's been a starting pitcher, and whether there's anything to that or not, maybe he's thinking, 'I've got to be a different pitcher (when in the bullpen),'" Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Who knows how they handle it or internalize it, but you go back to being a starting pitcher, you see how they handle it on the mound. He's more confident, if nothing else."
Brett Myers (4-13) allowed one run and four hits over 7 2-3 innings to earn his first win in 2½ months as last-place Houston snapped a four-game losing streak. The right-hander had lost seven consecutive decisions.
Humberto Quintero had three RBIs, threw out a runner attempting to steal immediately before a home run and called Myers' first win since he pitched a four-hitter in a 7-3 victory at the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 17.
"I'm happy because I know he hasn't won a lot this year and it's been tough for him," Quintero said. "Maybe he'll start winning now and we'll see more wins next year."
Myers, who skipped his most recent turn in the rotation to be with his wife as she gave birth to the couple's fourth child, had lost seven consecutive decisions since he beat Los Angeles.
"I just try to go out there and get quality starts," Myers said. "If I get a win, I get a win. I'm just trying to help this ballclub win games, but it's always good to get a win for myself, too."
The Astros have won four of their last five against Pittsburgh but are 2-9 in their past 11 against everyone else. Jimmy Paredes finished with three hits and Mark Melancon worked the ninth for his 17th save.
It rained for much of the game for the second straight day of the series, but there were no in-game delays. Monday afternoon's game started 56 minutes late due to the weather, but Tuesday's went on without a hitch despite temperatures falling into the 50s and wet conditions.
Both starters seemingly were unaffected by the weather — or maybe it was two of the NL's worst scoring teams. Myers struck out six and walked none.
Lincoln had six strikeouts — tying a career high — and walked none.
"He leaves game giving up (only) two runs," Hurdle said. "He was very solid again tonight. Very aggressive on both sides of the plate. ... He was very, very effective, just a good mix of pitches, the ball was down in the zone. Another good outing for Brad, a very good outing."
Lincoln, who was scored upon in three of four relief appearances this season, threw 67 of 97 pitches for strikes. All the runs he's allowed as a starter have come in either the first or second inning.
"It seems when I do give up runs they come in little bunches like that," Lincoln said. "But I felt good out there. The curveball felt good, and it was good to get deep into the game."
The Astros grabbed the lead in the second. Carlos Lee led off with a single and stole second. He moved up on Brian Bogusevic's single and scored when Paredes grounded into a fielder's choice.
Quintero had a two-out RBI double in the second and a two-run single in the eighth.
Doumit hit a two-out drive in the second for his eighth homer.
NOTES: Pirates OF Jose Tabata was diagnosed with a broken bone in his left hand. He will rest and receive treatment for 10 days to allow the bone to heal and will be re-evaluated then. He first experienced pain while swinging the bat in the cage on Aug. 24 and left Monday's game due to pain in the hand. ... The Astros activated LHP Sergio Escalona from the DL. ... RHP J.A. Happ is scheduled to start for Houston on Wednesday. He has allowed four earned runs in three starts against Pittsburgh this season. ... LHP Brian Burres makes his second start of the season Wednesday for the Pirates.