PITTSBURGH -- Before rookie right-hander Joe Musgrove could catch his breath Tuesday night, the Pirates were well on their way to dealing the Astros a 7-1 defeat at PNC Park. They scored four times off Musgrove in the first inning and were never threatened, sending the rookie hurler to his second consecutive loss.
After allowing three earned runs in 14 innings in his first two big league starts, Musgrove has allowed 13 earned runs and 19 hits in 9 1/3 innings in his last two outings. The first six batters he faced Tuesday got base hits.
"A starter's job is to go out there and set the tone of the game, and any time you go out there and have a first inning like that, it kind of sucks," Musgrove said. "I had the right plan going out there. I just didn't execute, and that's kind of been the problem the last two outings is just executing. I've been through failure before and I know I'm going to go through it again. Just going to process things, learn from it and be ready to go next time out."
Adam Frazier began the first with a single, and the next three hits went into the left-center-field gap. David Freese singled to center for the fifth consecutive hit, and Josh Bell singled to left field to make it 4-0. Musgrove then retired six in a row before Gregory Polanco hit the first of his two homers in the third.
"Those guys put together some really good at-bats and hit the ball hard the first inning," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "They didn't try to do too much. They did it all on a line ... a lot of them were opposite field or up the middle. And so he just couldn't really get to his put-away pitches. He never had a chance to end at-bats.
"Once they put that five or six hits in a row against him, he had a hard time managing to stop the big runs from scoring. They scored four in the first and he settled down a little bit, and they nicked him for another one with the homer, but all in all it was really pitch execution."
Musgrove said there was a little cut on his fastball that didn't allow him to place it exactly where he wanted. And for his secondary stuff to be effective, he has to have that good fastball working.
"I throw a lot of strikes," he said. "That's been a strength for me. Up here, guys don't miss pitches as much. I'm going to have to learn to throw more quality balls in certain counts. I just made pitches tonight and they took advantage of it."
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.