Matt Dominguez and J.D. Martinez drove in the deciding runs in the top of the 11th inning as the Houston Astros defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates, 4-2, in the middle test of a three-game set at PNC Park.
Jose Altuve and Chris Carter each drove in one run for the Astros, who had lost seven of eight coming in. Jose Cisnero (1-0) earned the win after tossing 3 2/3 shutout innings of relief, while Jose Veras picked up his sixth save of the season with a perfect bottom of the 11th.
Mark Melancon blew a 2-1 Pittsburgh lead in the eighth, allowing Carter to tie the game with an RBI single. Bryan Morris (1-2) absorbed the loss after allowing both runs in the 11th as the Pirates had a four-game win streak snapped.
"We don't take anybody lightly," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "This goes to show you. There's guys in this clubhouse who are disappointed we didn't win tonight."
Morris served up a leadoff double to Jason Castro in the 11th, then intentionally walked Carlos Pena following a Chris Carter fly out. After both runners advanced on a wild pitch, Castro scored on Dominguez's fielder's choice to second to make it 3-2.
"A lot of those guys that were up, they were up more so for show," Houston manager Bo Porter said of his extra innings strategy. "It was one of those situations."
On the play, Castro appeared to just slip past a tag at home after Pirates second baseman Neil Walker fired a bullet attempting to throw him out. Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle erupted from the dugout to argue the call and was immediately tossed from the game.
"I thought he was out, but I watched the replay and I was wrong." Added Hurdle.
The Pirates' chances for a comeback were dashed as well when Martinez pinch- hit for Cisnero and delivered an RBI single that scored Dominguez and gave the Astros a two-run advantage.
Houston trailed 2-1 in the eighth, but found success when Melancon came on to relieve starter A.J. Burnett.
Trevor Crowe and Altuve smacked back-to-back singles and Castro's fielder's choice put runners on first and third. Carter followed with a run-scoring single to left, knotting the game at 2-2.
Burnett tossed seven innings, yielding five hits and one run while fanning seven. The right-hander hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in each of his 10 starts this season, though his bullpen couldn't come through.
Erik Bedard allowed two runs on seven hits and struck out three over six innings for the Astros.
The Pirates opened up the scoring in the first thanks to consecutive two-out doubles from Andrew McCutchen and Gaby Sanchez, with Sanchez's two-bagger hitting off the wall in left and easily plating McCutchen for a 1-0 lead.
Houston finally got to Burnett in the fifth to tie the game at 1-1.
Altuve, who was activated off the bereavement list prior to the game, smacked a slow roller down the line with two outs and runners on first and third. Brandon Inge couldn't handle the ball, allowing the visitors to even the game.
Inge made up for the mishap one inning later with a two-out, RBI single to left that scored McCutchen to give the Pirates a 2-1 lead.
Allowing only one run in the frame was a small victory for Bedard, though, as the Pirates started with runners on second and third with no outs. The lefty forced Sanchez to pop out and Russell Martin to ground into a fielder's choice before Inge' single.
He ended the threat by retiring Walker, who fouled out to first.
The Astros optioned infielder Jake Elmore to Triple-A Oklahoma City to make room for Altuve ... The Pirates were 18-0 this season when leading after seven innings.