Holt's first four-hit game powers Bucs past Astros

Holt's first four-hit game powers Bucs past Astros

Holt's first four-hit game powers Bucs past Astros
PITTSBURGH -- What can you expect in a baseball game delayed 75 minutes by a swiftly-moving thunderstorm?

Quadruple strikes of a Lightning Holt, of course. And Brock Holt obliged.

The Little Second Baseman Who Could went 4-for-5, his first three hits triggering scoring rallies as the Pirates lit up the Pittsburgh skyline with a 6-2 win over the Astros.

"I think this is my first four-hit game of the year," said Holt, who apparently only hogged three-hit games in Indianapolis to bat .432 in his only Triple-A month. "So to have it in the big leagues is pretty nice. We got the 'W,' too, so that's all that matters."

Win No. 41 at PNC Park clinched the Bucs' second winning home record in the yard's 12 seasons, following a 43-38 stand in 2006.

Holt and Andrew McCutchen, who followed each of Holt's first three hits with RBI hits of his own and also went 4-for-4, threatened to turn Lightning & Thunder from cliche into play-by-play.

"The guy's good," McCutchen said of Holt, the 5-foot-10 infielder giving Neil Walker time to heal from lower-back tightness. "A scrappy little player. He puts the ball in play a lot and will create a lot of havoc. He did a real good job of that tonight."

"I was able to go out there and do my job: Get on base," Holt said. "But it doesn't matter if the guys behind you don't do it. And McCutchen had a great game."

The Bucs had 10 hits, and Holt and McCutchen had eight of them. McCutchen's foursome jumped his average from .341 to a National League-leading .347 mark.

Wandy Rodriguez did most of the rest against his recent Astros teammates, blanking them on four hits through seven innings. The left-hander has an ongoing scoreless streak of 13 innings.

Manager Clint Hurdle, in fact, would've put Rodriguez atop the Bucs' pile of heroes.

"He's the guy we needed to be on, and he was," Hurdle said, shaking his head in admiration. "Mixed in the breaking ball, dropped down on left-handed hitters on occasion to give them different looks."

The Bucs thus were able to rinse their mouths of the bad taste of Monday's listless 5-1 loss to Houston, while stopping a four-game losing streak. That long winning streak that could cement their postseason role has escaped the Pirates, but they have also been able to avoid the lengthy losing skid that could put them out of business.

Every NL club has endured at least one losing streak of five or more games since mid-April, except for Pittsburgh

Rodriguez's ability to wriggle out of a first-inning jam and put up a zero should not be overlooked. Of the Pirates' many worrisome tendencies, allowing first-inning runs has been one of the most costly.

The Bucs have allowed 98 first-inning runs, which, as an absolute number in 135 games, may not seem terribly high. Outstanding teams' offenses do not have to play catch-up that frequently, though. It's no coincidence that the fewest first-inning runs in the National League have been allowed by the team (Nationals, 53) tied for the most wins in the Majors, and the fewest in the American League by the team (A's, 49) tied for the second most.

Rodriguez had to quell a threat raised by Jose Altuve's leadoff single and Justin Maxwell's two-out walk.

"After that," Hurdle said, "he was very rhythmic, on-tempo, in sync. I saw this a lot for five years from the other side."

Houston catcher Jason Castro, one of Rodriguez's former batterymates, agreed.

"He was doing exactly what he does," Castro said. "That's what we would expect from him and what he did for the Astros for a long time. We had a pretty good idea of what he was going to do, and he did a good job of executing."

Then it was on to the Holt & Cutch Show.

"They showed up big-time for us," Hurdle said. "We had 10 hits, and two players with eight of them. You don't see that very often. Very impressive."

Holt led off the first with a single off Jordan Lyles and was forced on a grounder by Travis Snider, who then scored on a double by McCutchen. After scoring that run, Snider had to leave the game with a new aggravation of the right-hamstring discomfort that has troubled him for weeks.

Two innings later, Holt struck again. He pulled a one-out single down the left-field line, then created enough havoc -- drawing multiple pickoff throws from Lyles -- to contribute to a walk of Jose Tabata and create an opportunity answered by consecutive run-scoring singles from McCutchen and Garrett Jones.

Two innings after that, Holt changed it up: He doubled, and became McCutchen's 83rd RBI on his single to center.

Holt's next hit came with two outs in the sixth -- meaning, with Tabata getting struck out by Chuckie Fick, McCutchen missed a shot at another reprise.

"You can't say enough about McCutchen," Houston manager Tony DeFrancesco said. "He goes 4-for-4 with three RBIs and hit the ball hard. The leadoff guy, Holt, was on base four times. They've got a nice team over there."

DeFrancesco's own team wasn't too nice on the play that gave the Bucs their final two runs, on a play that has come to typify Houston's season of transition. Pedro Alvarez's infield pop up with two on and two outs in the fifth was dropped by shortstop Tyler Greene as both runners circled home.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.