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Pirates' Snell strikes out 11; Bucs rally again

| Wednesday, April 4, 2007

HOUSTON - They weren't the prettiest hits -- a bunt and a bloop -- but they were enough Tuesday to boost the Pirates past the Houston Astros, 3-2 .

The Pirates won it by scoring two runs in the eighth inning off reliever Dan Wheeler (0-1). Jack Wilson ignited the rally with a one-out bunt single.

"A very heads-up play on his part," Pirates manager Jim Tracy said.

"Down by a run, I'm just trying to get on base," Wilson said. "They're playing no doubles, with (first baseman Lance) Berkman down the line and (second baseman Craig) Biggio playing towards the middle, so I went for it."

Jason Bay walked. With two outs, Ronny Paulino snapped an 0-for-8 skid with a soft single to left-center field. Wilson scored to tie the game.

Up came Nady, who earlier in the game slammed a 410-foot solo homer. This time, the ball didn't go as far.

"Not exactly," Nady said. "I knew I was going to get pounded in, (but) it caught me a little more inside and tied me up a little more than I anticipated."

Nonetheless, the ball dropped into left-center field, just out of Biggio's reach. Bay scored the winning run.

Jonah Bayliss (1-0) got the win, and Salomon Torres recorded his second save with a 1-2-3 ninth.

The Pirates are off to a 2-0 start for the first time since 2003, when they won their first four games of the season.

For the better part of six innings, Pirates starter Ian Snell zipped through the Astros lineup. His fastball consistently hit 95 mph, and he rode it for a career-high 11 strikeouts.

"Everything was working, and they were swinging at a lot of bad pitches, too," Snell said. "I'd throw a pitch in the dirt, and they'd swing to make it 0-2, then I'd throw a slider and get them out."

Snell gave up four hits, three of them singles. The only mistake was a solo home run by Jason Lane that tied the game, 1-1, in the fifth inning.

In the sixth, pinch-hitter Orlando Palmeiro rolled a single between second baseman Jose Castillo and first baseman Adam LaRoche. With two outs and Palmeiro at second base, Snell got ahead 0-2 on $100 million slugger Carlos Lee.

Snell tried to slam the door with a 94 mph slider in on Lee's hands, but Lee fought it off for a single into shallow center. Palmeiro scored to give Houston a 2-1 lead.

Houston right-hander Jason Jennings was just as effective as Snell. Jennings went six innings and was tagged for one run -- a tape-measure home run by Nady in the second inning.

Nady's blast, his second of the season, carried to left field. The last Pirate to homer in the first two games of the season was Craig Wilson in 2004.

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