Minor Leaguers lead eighth-inning rally

Minor Leaguers lead eighth-inning rally

ASTROS 6, PIRATES 4
at Kissimmee, Fla.
Friday, March 26

Astros at the plate: Houston rallied with four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, with Minor Leaguer Drew Locke ripping a bases-loaded triple to give the Astros a 4-2 lead. T.J. Steele, another Minor League player who was in uniform, went 2-for-4 with an RBI. Geoff Blum went 1-for-3. Chris Johnson hit a walk-off two-run homer to center field.

Pirates at the plate: Jeff Clement went 2-for-3 with an RBI, and Lastings Milledge was 1-for-3 with a double and a run scored. Pirates starting pitcher Zach Duke doubled in the third and fifth innings, recording the Pirates' first hit of the game in the third inning. The Pirates scored two in the ninth to tie the game, with Brandon Moss scoring on a wild pitch and Robbie Grossman scoring on a Benji Gonzalez RBI single.

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Astros on the mound: Roy Oswalt started for the Astros and looked sharp, holding the Pirates to three hits and one run, striking out six batters in four innings before leaving with a left hamstring strain. He threw 60 pitches, 41 for strikes. Brandon Lyon followed and allowed one hit in one scoreless inning. Bud Norris finished out the game for the Astros.

Pirates on the mound: Starter Zach Duke, making his first start since being named Opening Day starter, threw 6 2/3 innings and held the Astros to no runs on two hits and one walk. Duke, who also had a pair of hits, struck out two batters.

Worth noting: Oswalt (Astros) and Duke (Pirates) were both recently named Opening Day starters. Oswalt will be making his club-record eighth consecutive Opening Day start when he faces the Giants on April 5, and Duke will be making his second Opening Day start and first since 2007 when he faces the Dodgers.

Grapefruit League records: Astros 12-10, Pirates 6-14

Up next: Four days after being named the team's fifth starter, right-hander Daniel McCutchen will make his first Grapefruit League start Saturday when the Pirates host the Blue Jays at 1:05 pm ET. McCutchen was scheduled to start last Sunday before rain washed out the Pirates-Rays tilt. Although McCutchen has started two Minor League games this month, his two previous Grapefruit League appearances have both been in relief. Relievers Brendan Donnelly, Evan Meek, Steven Jackson and Jeff Karstens are also scheduled to pitch against Toronto.

Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez will make his penultimate start of the spring when he faces the Tampa Bay Rays at 12:05 p.m. CT on Saturday at Osceola County Stadium. Rodriguez, who threw 90 pitches in his previous start Monday, has gotten knocked around this spring. He has given up 20 hits and 16 earned runs in 13 innings in his four starts. Matt Lindstrom, Jeff Fulchino, Tim Byrdak and Yorman Bazardo are also scheduled to pitch.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.