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Astros-Pirates: Houston Keeps Surging

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The Astros refuse to die, and I can’t help but get the feeling that they wouldn’t mind taking on Ike this weekend, as they don’t consider the Chicago Cubs to be much competition. Anyway, the Astros won their 13th of 14 games last night, defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-4.

With the win, the Astros passed the St. Louis Cardinals and moved into third place in the NL Central. And with the win, the Astros also passed the Cardinals in the wild card standings. The Astros and Philadelphia Phillies are tied for second in the wild card chase, with both teams sitting four games behind the Milwaukee Brewers. But with only 16 games remaining in the season, time is quickly running down.

The Astros got the win last night on the basis of the pitching of Brian Moehler, who last night won his 11th game of the season, his most wins since the 2000 season when he was with Detroit. And Miguel Tejada returned from the dead by hitting a grand slam in the sixth inning to put the Astros up 7-2. That was Tejada’s first home run since August 9th. And Hunter Pence continued on his hot streak. He is now batting .439 for his last 12 games, and he has three homers in that streak.

The Astros will finish out the series with the Pirates tonight as Roy Oswalt takes on Zach Duke. After that, the Astros are supposed to play the Chicago Cubs. But the game times and locations are still up in the air because of Ike, though it does appear that Friday’s game will be moved to Friday afternoon.

If they do play on Friday, Alberto Arias will get the start for the Astros since Wandy Rodriguez is still not able to pitch. If they play on Saturday, however, Brandon Backe has made it known that he will be available. Also, if the need arises, Ty Wigginton may be available for pinch hitting duties this weekend.

After this weekend, the Astros are supposed to go on the road, where they will play their final six road games, with three in Miami against the Marlins and three in Pittsburgh against the Pirates. – John Royal

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