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HOU@PIT: Myers strikes out six over 7 2/3 innings

PITTSBURGH -- The conditions couldn't have been any better for Brett Myers, who enjoys getting down and dirty off the field as much as he does on the diamond. So, with the mound a little muddy from another steady rain Tuesday night, Myers was in his element.

"I like playing in mud," he said.

Myers turned PNC Park into his own personal playground, and even played the role of bully, holding the Pirates to four hits and one run in 7 2/3 innings to win for the first time in nearly three months with a 4-1 victory over Pittsburgh.

The win snapped the Astros' four-game losing skid and halted Myers' personal seven-game losing streak. It was his first win since throwing a complete game to beat the Dodgers on June 17 in Los Angeles, improving his record to 4-13.

"I just try to go out there and give quality starts," Myers said. "If I get a win, I get a win. I'm trying to help the ballclub win games, but it's always good to get a win for myself, too."

Myers' battery mate, Humberto Quintero, had a little fun in the mud himself. The veteran catcher went 2-for-4 with a double and drove in three of Houston's four runs. He also threw out a runner at second base just before Ryan Doumit hit a solo homer in the second inning.

"He's the player of the game in my eyes," Myers said.

Third baseman Jimmy Paredes (3-for-4), shortstop Clint Barmes (2-for-4) and Quintero combined to go 7-for-12 in the sixth through eighth spots in the order, but the catalyst for the Astros on this night was pitching.

It began with Myers, who didn't walk a batter and struck out six, and continued with relievers Wesley Wright and Mark Melancon, who handled the final 1 1/3 innings. Melancon closed out the game for his 17th save.

"It all starts with pitching, and Brett did a great job," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "He was able to keep them off balance a little bit. He got the one breaking ball up that Doumit hit, but he didn't have very many baserunners and there weren't a lot of stressful innings for him. It was great to see."

Pirates right fielder Garrett Jones credited Myers' sharp curve with setting up the rest of his stuff.

"His curveball and slider were definitely working for him today and he was able to keep the ball down, but we did barrel up some balls right at some guys," he said.

Myers was pulled from a one-run game with two outs in the eighth when he threw away a dribbler off the bat of Josh Harrison, putting the tying run at second base. After a lengthy visit on the mound with Mills, Myers headed for the dugout after throwing 92 pitches.

"He wanted to stay here, and I wanted him to want to stay in there," Mills said. "We talked about it a little bit. He was the professional that he is, and we went from there."

Myers was reluctant to give up the ball after retiring 18 of the final 21 batters he faced.

"There were a couple of awkward pauses [on the mound]," he said. "He made the decision, but I wanted to stay in. It's always his decision. It worked out for us."

But not without some tense moments.

Wright came into the game and immediately threw six consecutive balls, walking Alex Presley on four pitches, and fell behind Jones before he did him a favor and popped up the first pitch he threw over the plate. The Astros were out of the jam.

"The first thing that was going through my mind was that I had to figure out a way to get a better grip on the ball," Wright said. "I was struggling a little bit with my grip. The balls were pretty new and I was trying to find a way to get a good grip and get a pitch over the plate they could put in play. I just tried not to panic and just trust the fact that all it takes is one pitch for something good to happen. That made it a little easier to relax."

The Astros scored twice in the second against Pirates starter Brad Lincoln (1-2), with Carlos Lee and Brian Bogusevic starting the inning with consecutive singles. Lee scored on a Paredes fielder's choice, and Paredes trotted home on a double by Quintero.

"I try to help my team whenever I can -- hit and throw to the bases and call a good game," Quintero said.

With runners at second and third and one out in the ninth, Quintero gave Melancon some breathing room by shooting a single to left-center to score Bogusevic and Paredes and make it 4-1. Myers was finally going to get a win.

"Myers was really good, man," Quintero said. "When we threw long toss before the game and stuff like that, he threw really hard. I said, 'You [must] feel really good?' And he said, 'Yeah, I feel really good.' When he threw in the 'pen I see that everything was good and we used it today in the game."

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