Close call: Astros pull out victory vs. Bucs in the 11th
Cisnero picks up first big league win with scoreless relief outing
PITTSBURGH -- Jose Ciserno's postgame shower turned into a postgame celebration, as a dozen or so teammates corralled him in the bathroom and doused him with beer, shaving cream and talcum powder -- a party worthy of his first Major League win.
Cisnero, who hadn't pitched in a week, threw 3 2/3 scoreless innings of relief, allowing two hits while striking out five, and the Astros pushed a pair of runs across in the 11th inning to come from behind and beat the Pirates, 4-2, on Saturday night at PNC Park.
"He did a tremendous job of saving the rest of the bullpen and keeping the game right there, and gave our offense a chance late to put together that two-run rally," Astros manager Bo Porter said.
The win was the Astros' first this year when trailing after seven innings, and it came on the heels of Friday's devastating loss when Jimmy Paredes made an error with two outs in the ninth that cost Houston the game. It was also only the Astros' second extra-inning win in the past two seasons (2-12).
"It's a huge lift," catcher Jason Castro said. "After the game last night, to lose that one the way it happened, it was kind of tough. It was a crushing loss. To come back tonight and fall behind later in the game and then rally back and come back in extras, that was huge. It's our first extra-inning win in a long time. That's huge for the momentum and lifts the guys' spirits and will be big for the finale tomorrow."
Castro scored the game-winning run in the 11th, darting home from third base on Matt Dominguez's grounder to second base. The Pirates had the infield in, but Castro got a good enough jump and was able to slide home ahead of the throw from Neil Walker.
J.D. Martinez added an RBI single later in the inning.
"It was a contact play, so I was trying to get the biggest lead I could and I was going as soon as Matty put the ball in play," Castro said. "He did a great job that at-bat. That was huge right there, with two strikes battling and fouling a couple of pitches off and putting one in play. That was all he needed to do, and luckily I got a good enough jump on that pitch and was able to beat the tag."
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle argued that Castro should have been out and was ejected by plate umpire C.B. Bucknor, but after the game said the right call was made.
"He got a good look at it and he was right," he said.
Back to Ciserno.
He was called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City, where he had been pitching in the rotation, on April 22, and has been used in long relief by the Astros. He escaped a bases-loaded jam in the seventh by striking out Gaby Sanchez and then mowed down nine of the next 10 batters he faced.
"He did keep us off the board the rest of the game, and anytime you get that kind of push from one guy, he probably should get the win and the save," Hurdle said.
Jose Veras, who recorded his sixth save, was one of the players leading the Cisnero celebration in the clubhouse, and bullpen coach Dennis Martinez flipped him the game ball while talking to reporters.
"That's his first win in the big leagues and we gave him a shower with beers, shampoo, water, everything," Veras said. "We were playing around. We're trying to have a little fun. We've been struggling a little bit and we tried to have fun. You can't have fun if you don't win. We enjoyed the day. He got his first win and we won, which is the best part."
And the celebration?
"Total surprise, but it felt great," Cisnero said.
The Astros, who entered the night 0-for-26 when trailing after seven innings, rallied to tie the game in the eighth against Mark Melancon, who hadn't allowed a run in his last 13 outings. Chris Carter's one-out RBI single tied the game at 2.
"It's a resilient group," Porter said. "They have fun together and love playing together and they play hard. It's a long baseball season. Just like we had our bumps and bruises, we're going to hit a stretch where we're going to play good baseball, like we did tonight, for a long stretch and we're going to win our share of games."
The Pirates got back-to-back doubles by Andrew McCutchen and Sanchez in the first inning to score a run, and then snapped a 1-1 tie in the sixth on a two-out single by Brandon Inge. Erik Bedard allowed two runs and seven hits in a season-high six innings for the Astros.
"He's now at the point where he's completely built up and strong," Porter said. "Every time this guy seems to get in trouble, it's almost like he stepped behind the rubber, rubbed the ball up and made quality pitch after quality pitch. He was outstanding tonight."