Houston, TX – Jed Lowrie hit a three-run homer, while Justin Maxwell and Brett Wallace added solo shots in the Houston Astros' 7-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the opener of a three-game set.
Edgar Gonzalez started the game for Houston, but left in the second inning with a strained right hamstring. Fernando Rodriguez (2-10) tossed 3 1/3 innings of shutout ball to pick up the win.
"Fernando Rodriguez really stepped up today," Astros interim manager Tony DeFrancesco said. "He got some big outs for us, filled some innings for us. He made some pitches."
Jeff Locke (0-2) fanned eight, but surrendered three runs on three hits and three walks in five innings for the sinking Pirates, who have dropped four in a row and 12 of their last 14 contests.
The Astros jumped out to a 7-0 lead after tallying three runs in the opening frame, three more in the sixth and another in the seventh.
Brandon Barnes hit a one-out single to right field and Maxwell walked two batters later before Lowrie belted a three-run shot into the Crawford Boxes in left field.
"Out of the gate, down 3-0. It's always tough for a team to play from a hole," Locke said.
Maxwell led off the sixth with a laser into the left-field seats and after Lowrie was hit by a pitch, he scored when Wallace lined a triple down the right-field line. With the bases loaded later in the frame, Jose Altuve was hit by a pitch to force in another run.
Wallace hit a two-out solo blast in the seventh.
The Pirates finally got on the board in the eighth when Garrett Jones cracked a solo homer to right field.
Pittsburgh was 1-for-4 with runners in scoring position, while Houston finished 1-for-8 with RISP ... Maxwell's homer was his 17th of the season ... Altuve stole his 32nd base of the season.