National League Roundup : Astro Pitching Remains Tough in 4-2 Victory Over Pirates

When it comes to pitching, nobody has more of it than the Houston Astros.

Lately, it has been impossible to get more than two runs a game off the strong arms of the Astros’ staff.

Nolan Ryan and three relievers pitched the Astros to a 4-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates Wednesday night at the Astrodome to continue the trend. The Astros have given up two or fewer runs in each of their last six games.


Although he improved his record to 4-2, Ryan did not have one of his better performances. He struggled with control throughout and gave way after six innings.

In a throwback to his early days, Ryan gave up four hits, walked three, hit a batter and committed a balk.

In fact, he was trailing, 2-1, when Alan Ashby came out of a deep slump to deliver a two-run single in the sixth. Ashby had only 4 hits in 33 at-bats before his hit, which beat Doug Drabek (4-3) and gave the Astros a sweep of the three-game series.

Joaquin Andujar, Juan Agosto and Dave Smith each pitched an inning in relief of Ryan. Smith pitched the ninth for his eighth save.

St. Louis 4, Chicago 1--Their disabled list is still the longest in the league, but the Cardinals are slowly returning to the form that made them league champions last season.

The Cardinals, who won only 4 of their first 16 games this season, reached .500 with their victory at Chicago.

Tom Brunansky, a key addition to the club, doubled home two runs in the eighth inning to break open a tight battle. Since obtaining Brunansky from Minnesota for second baseman Tommy Herr, the Cardinals are 15-8.

The Cardinals are still missing starters Joe Magrane, Danny Cox and Greg Mathews. In this game, Jose DeLeon had to leave after five innings with a blister on his pitching hand.

But Todd Worrell is reaching his peak. He pitched 1 innings of scoreless relief to save the win for Bob Forsch (3-3).

San Francisco 5, Philadelphia 1--Mike Krukow gave up a second-inning home run to Lance Parrish at San Francisco but only 3 other hits in 8 innings and improved his record to 3-2.

The Giants, who were held to 1 run and 8 hits in the first 2 games of the series, pounded out 14 in this one. However, baserunning problems kept them from scoring more runs.

Umpire Dave Pallone, involved in the altercation that caused Cincinnati Reds Manager Pete Rose to be suspended earlier in the month, was in another beef.

On an appeal play, Pallone called Kevin Mitchell of the Giants out for missing third base on his way home in the fifth inning.

“I know I touched the base,” Mitchell said. “He’s just out there trying to do his job. I’ve heard he’s made a lot of bad calls.”

Cincinnati 8, Atlanta 4--Dave Collins’ suicide squeeze bunt scored Barry Larkin with the tie-breaking run in the seventh inning for the patched-up Reds. He also had a two-run double in the eighth to break it open.

It was a big victory for the Reds, who are missing Rose because of the suspension, and several regulars, including Eric Davis, because of injuries.

Jose Rijo pitched four innings of one-hit relief to improve his record to 5-1.

The Braves scored a run in each of the first four innings, then were stopped cold.

With first baseman Nick Esasky one of their injured players, the Reds swung a deal with the Chicago Cubs for Leon Durham. All they had to give up for the 30-year-old left-handed first baseman, was relief pitcher Pat Perry. The Cubs, eager to get rid of Durham, sent Perry to their Iowa club in the American Assn.

New York 5, San Diego 2--Bob Ojeda (4-2) held the Padres to one hit through eight innings at San Diego as the Mets increased their lead in the East to four games over slumping Pittsburgh.

After Ojeda gave up a leadoff triple to Dickie Thon and a long fly-ball out to John Kruk in the ninth, Roger McDowell came on to get the last two outs.

Keith Hernandez hit a two-run homer for the Mets.