PITTSBURGH (AP) – Andy Pettitte wasn’t about to do what Roger Clemens did the night before by losing to a Pirates rookie pitcher who had never won in the majors.

Pettitte made his shortest start in 21/2 months, but still won his seventh in a row and kept Houston in the NL wild-card lead with a 7-4 victory over Pittsburgh.

The Astros won their sixth in seven games as Brad Ausmus drove in four runs, three on consecutive doubles off left-hander Tom Gorzelanny (0-1), who was making his major league debut. Gorzelanny, a 2003 second-round draft pick, pitched earlier this month in both the Triple-A and Double-A playoffs, but the majors proved a little more difficult.

Pettitte (17-9) never finds it very difficult to beat the last-place Pirates, who, despite their 62-89 record, had won three in a row against Houston – all by shutout. Ian Snell threw eight innings for his first career victory Monday, outpitching Clemens in a 7-0 Pirates win that was their first ever against the 340-game winner.

Houston ended its 28-inning scoreless streak against Pittsburgh in the second on Adam Everett’s routine pop fly that fell among three players in short left field for a single, and Ausmus’ first double.

Everett also singled to drive in a run in a three-run fourth, and Ausmus followed with a two-run double to make it 4-2. Everett went 3-for-4 after missing four games to be with his 8-month-old daughter, who needed surgery for an undisclosed medical problem Friday.

Morgan Ensberg, in his second game back in the lineup after not starting for two weeks because of a hand injury, added his 35th home run in the fifth. The solo shot helped chase Gorzelanny after he gave up seven hits and five runs in 5 1-3 innings.

Pettitte wasn’t as sharp as he was in holding Florida to one run in eight innings Thursday, but won his 14th in 16 decisions since June 20 – the best record in the majors during that stretch. He gave up seven hits and two runs in 5 1-3 innings, the 18th consecutive start he has yielded three runs or fewer.

Pettitte is 5-1 with a 1.70 ERA in six career starts against the Pirates and 3-1 with a 1.48 ERA in four PNC Park starts.

Brad Eldred, one of eight right-handed batters in the Pirates’ lineup against Pettitte, hit his 10th homer leading off the second. Craig Wilson had a run-scoring double in the third for the Pirates, who had won four in a row and five of six.

Chad Qualls followed Pettitte by allowing a run in 1 2-3 innings, Dan Wheeler pitched the eighth and Brad Lidge the ninth in a non-save situation.

Notes: Gorzelanny struck out two after leading all Pirates minor league pitchers with 167 strikeouts in 129 2-3 innings. … Pettitte has a 1.70 ERA during his winning streak. It was his shortest start since he lasted five innings against San Diego on July 6. … The season series is tied at 7. Five of the Pirates’ seven victories came in shutouts.


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