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Error in 9th allows Pirates to rally past Astros

| Friday, May 17, 2013, 10:48 p.m.
Astros shortstop Jake Elmore (left) and right fielder Jimmy Paredes collide, and the ball gets loose as they try to catch a pop fly hit by the Pirates’ Russell Martin with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth inning Friday, May 17, 2013, at PNC Park. The error allowed the winning run to score.
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The Pirates' Andrew McCutchen (22) is congratulated by Neil Walker after hitting a home run dring the first inning against Astros on Friday, May 17, 2013, at PNC Park.
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The Pirates' Starling Marte is hit by a pitch during the first inning against the Astros on Friday, May 17, 2013, at PNC Park.
Pirates starting pitcher Jeanmar Gomez throws to the Astros in the first inning Friday, May 17, 2013, at PNC Park.
The Pirates' Starling Marte (6) runs into Astros shortstop Marwin Gonzalez after being called out stealing second in the first inning Friday, May 17, 2013, at PNC Park.
Astros starting pitcher Jordan Lyles looks away as the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen rounds the bases after hitting a home run during the first inning Friday, May 17, 2013, at PNC Park.
Astros starting pitcher Jordan Lyles throws to a Pirates batter in the first inning Friday, May 17, 2013, at PNC Park.
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Pirates catcher Russell Martin (55) and pitcher Jeanmar Gomez talk on the mound after giving up three runs in the fifth inning to the Astros on Friday, May 17, 2013, at PNC Park.
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The Pirates' Clint Barmes fields a ground ball in the fifth inning against the Astros on Friday, May 17, 2013, at PNC Park.
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The Astros' Marwin Gonzalez dives but misses a ball against the Pirates in the fourth inning Friday, May 17, 2013, at PNC Park.
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The Pirates' Starling Marte watches a home run off the bat of the Astros' Matt Dominguez (not pictured) bounce out of the crowd in the fifth inning Friday, May 17, 2013, at PNC Park.
Astros shortstop Marwin Gonzalez, left (left) for a single by the Pirates' Pedro Alvarez as shortstop Jake Elmore (10) pursues in the fourth inning Friday, May 17, 2013, at PNC Park.
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The Pirates' Neil Walker (18) tags out the Astros' Trevor Crowe at second base on Friday, May 17, 2013, at PNC Park.
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The Pirates' Pedro Alvarez throws for an out against the Astros during the seventh inning Friday, May 17, 2013, at PNC Park.
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The Pirates' Andrew McCutchen celebrates an Astros' error that allowed the winning run to score Friday, May 17, 2013, at PNC Park.
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The Pirates' Travis Snider celebrates an Astros error that allowed the winning run to score Friday, May 17, 2013, at PNC Park.
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The Astros' Jake Elmore (10) and teammate Jimmy Paredes collide and drop the ball, allowing the winning run to score Friday, May 17, 2013, at PNC Park.
The Pirates' Russell Martin (55) is congratulated by coach Dave Jauss after Astros shortstop Jake Elmore and right fielder Jimmy Paredes collided as they tried to catch a pop fly hit by Martin with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth inning Friday, May 17, 2013, at PNC Park.
Pittsburgh Pirates' Pedro Alvarez, right. rounds the bases past Houston Astros third baseman Matt Dominguez after hitting s two-run home run to tie the baseball game in the eighth inning Friday, May 17, 2013, in Pittsburgh. The Pirates won 5-4. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Astros shortstop Jake Elmore (left) and right fielder Jimmy Paredes collide, and the ball gets loose as they try to catch a pop fly hit by the Pirates’ Russell Martin with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth inning Friday, May 17, 2013, at PNC Park. The error allowed the winning run to score.

It was just like old times. The Houston Astros were back in a National League ballpark Friday, and the Pirates beat them again.

The Pirates rallied in the final two innings, capping it with a bizarre game-winning play — a pop-fly error — in the ninth that sent the Astros to a 5-4 loss.

“A lot of quirky things happened all at once,” Pirates infielder Brandon Inge said.

Starling Marte began the ninth by looping a single to right off righty Edgar Gonzalez (0-1). Travis Snider reached on a fielder's choice. Andrew McCutchen's single moved Snider to third base.

Inge hit a comebacker, but Gonzalez bobbled the ball for an error that loaded the bases.

“I thought (Snider) was going to go home, but, no,” Gonzalez said. “It was like, maybe if I throw to third it will be too late, so I just held onto it.”

With two outs, Russell Martin worked a full count then hit a towering popup to shallow center. Right fielder Jimmy Paredes bumped into second baseman Jake Elmore, and the ball popped out of Elmore's mitt and fell to the ground. Snider scored on the error.

“Our defense pretty much let us down,” Astros manager Bo Porter said. “If you're the outfielder and you see the infielder waving his hands, standing under the ball, you should just let him take it.”

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said the crowd of 29,743 might have rattled or distracted Paredes.

“I think the crowd had as much to do with that win as anything we did,” Hurdle said. “The noise they were making makes it difficult to hear if fielders are trying to communicate.”

However, Paredes insisted he was focused on the ball.

“All I'm doing is trying to catch the ball,” Paredes said. “I'm not thinking about anything else.”

Pedro Alvarez tied the game, 4-4, in the eighth inning with a 462-foot, two-run homer that one-hopped into the Allegheny River. Alvarez's 27th career blast at PNC Park was the first one to reach the water.

“I'm not going to take credit if it bounces in,” Alvarez said, grinning. “That's cheating.”

It was the second night in a row the Pirates plunked a ball in the river. Snider hit a 458-foot homer in Thursday's win over the Brewers.

“I've seen Pedro hit some balls pretty far, and that might be the farthest,” Snider said. “I'm surprised it bounced. That ball was crushed. When we saw it lift off, it was pretty exciting. It's always fun to watch the big fella put one over the stands.”

McCutchen continued his torrid streak — he's batting .339 in May — by going 3 for 5, including a solo homer.

The Pirates went 12-5 against Houston last season when the teams were National League Central rivals. This is the Astros' first year in the American League, and they have scuffled against the beefy, designated hitter-driven lineups.

In his fourth turn as a fill-in starter, Pirates righty Jeanmar Gomez turned in his first clunker.

“I didn't have my best stuff,” Gomez said. “I was working with my sinker. It was my only pitch.”

Gomez lasted only 4 23 innings and gave up four runs on five hits, walked two and struck out one. He was done in by a sloppy fifth inning that was marred by two errors on the same play.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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