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Astros swept by Pirates
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07/06/2003  3:05 PM ET 
Astros swept by Pirates
Team gets four hits off Bucs' D'Amico
By George Von Benko / Special to MLB.com

Wade Miller was roughed up in Sunday's loss. (Gene J. Puskar)
PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Pirates used the long ball and an outstanding performance from Jeff D'Amico to complete a three game sweep of the Houston Astros. Pittsburgh posted an 8-3 victory in front of 18,741 fans at PNC Park.

Houston starter Wade Miller surrendered seven runs and 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings of work. Miller was tagged with the loss, falling to 5-9 on the season.

"They've got good hitters and they hit the ball," Houston manager Jimy Williams explained. "You've got to tip your cap to them. His (Miller) stuff was good, location was probably not what he wanted, but his stuff was good."

Pittsburgh got a strong effort from right-hander D'Amico, who retired the first 10 batters he faced. D'Amico upped his record to 5-8, pitching the second complete game of the season for Pittsburgh and surrendering two earned run on four hits. It was the fourth complete game of D'Amico's career.

"We didn't expect to come to Pittsburgh and be swept by the Pirates," Houston right fielder Orlando Merced said. "But for some reason they're playing well right now and we didn't. You've got to give D'Amico credit; he hit his spots and pitched very well."

Pittsburgh roughed up Miller for a pair of runs in the second inning. Red hot Matt Stairs opened the frame with a single. Craig Wilson popped out to first base. Shortstop Jack Wilson singled putting runners at first and second. Light hitting second baseman Abraham Nunez smacked a two-run double over the head of center fielder Craig Biggio. D'Amico singled to center, but Biggio gunned down Nunez at the plate. After a walk to Kenny Lofton, Jason Kendall lined out to shortstop ending the inning.

Pittsburgh went up 4-0 in the bottom of the third inning. Brian Giles crushed his 10th home run of the year, sending a Miller pitch into the Houston bullpen in center field. With two out, Craig Wilson hit a high drive to straightaway center field. It was the fourth home run of the season for Wilson.

The Astros got on the scoreboard in the fourth inning thanks to some shoddy fielding by the Pirates. With one out, Geoff Blum singled. He advanced to third when Pirates' third baseman Aramis Ramirez committed his 19th error of the season on a Jeff Bagwell ground ball. Bagwell wound up at second base. Blum scored on a groundout by Lance Berkman to make it 4-1, Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh broke the game open the bottom of the sixth inning. With one out, Kenny Lofton doubled off Miller. Kendall beat out a infield single putting runners at first and third. Giles popped out to second base. Ramirez ripped his eighth homer of the year to center field giving Pittsburgh a 7-1 advantage. Pete Munro came on in relief for Houston and retired the side.

Houston got a run in the seventh off D'Amico. Bagwell reached base on an error by Ramirez. Berkman drew a walk. Ramirez made a sparkling play at third forcing out Bagwell and throwing out Morgan Ensberg for a double play. Berkman advanced to second and scored on a RBI single by Orlando Merced making it Pittsburgh 7, Houston 2.

Pittsburgh tacked on an insurance run in the eighth inning. Lofton doubled off reliever Brandon Puffer and scored on a Ramirez RBI single. It was the fourth RBI of the day for Ramirez and number 52 on the season.

Berkman smacked his 15th home run in the season in the ninth inning making the final Pittsburgh 8 Houston 3.

The series sweep by Pittsburgh was fourth time the Astros had been swept this season. Houston returns home for a key seven game homestand against the Cincinnati Reds and the Pirates.

"We play the schedule you know," Williams said. "We play the schedule and we come in here and play three games and we got Cincinnati tomorrow. We play 162 games and every dog supposedly has his day. We've played some good games and actually lost a couple of close games here by one run. We didn't get a lot of hits today and they did and D'Amico pitched well so it was a loss."

George Von Benko is a contributor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.



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