Pirates’ Russell Martin (55) is congratulated by coach Dave Jauss after Astros shortstop Jake Elmore, and right fielder Jimmy Paredes collided as they tried to catch a pop fly by Martin with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth inning of a baseball game May 17. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Things are going so well for the Pittsburgh Pirates these days that opposing teams can’t even make routine catches.
Russell Martin’s bases-loaded fly ball popped out Jimmy Paredes’ glove when he ran into second baseman Jake Elmore with two outs in the ninth inning, and the second missed catch of the game by a Houston right fielder helped the Pirates rally past the Astros for a 5-4 win Friday night.
Paredes and Elmore said neither could hear the other calling for the ball because of the crowd noise.
“This game’s crazy sometimes,” Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. “The crowd helped us there on the error. They made it tough on the fielders and they created a break for us.”
The Pirates (25-17) won for the seventh time in eight games to move a season-high eight games over .500.
“I like the direction we’re headed, the effort and the attitude,” Hurdle said.
The Pirates are tied with Cincinnati for the second-best record in the National League behind St. Louis (27-14). All three teams play in the NL Central.
“I think because our teams don’t play on either coast and don’t play in major media markets that we probably get overlooked a little,” Hurdle said. “That’s OK, though. We know how competitive this division is.”
The Astros also were part of the NL Central until being shifted to the American League West starting this season. Houston’s 11-31 start is its worst and matched Miami for the worst record in the major leagues.
The ninth-inning miscue wasn’t Houston’s only fielding foible.
Down 4-1, Pittsburgh started its comeback in the sixth when Chris Carter, usually a designated hitter, dropped Andrew McCutchen’s fly ball to right for a three-base error and Garrett Jones followed with a double.
Pedro Alvarez hit a two-run homer in the eighth, a 462-foot drive that cleared the right-field stands and went into the Allegheny River on one hop.
“I’m not going to take credit if it bounces in,” Alvarez said. “That’s cheating.”
Daryle Ward is the only player to hit a ball into the river since PNC Park opened 12 years ago, doing so in 2002 for Houston off Kip Wells.
Pirates right fielder Travis Snider hit a 458-foot shot into the Allegheny River on Thursday night against Milwaukee.
“I’ve seen Pedro hit some balls pretty far, and that might be the farthest,” Snider said. “I’m surprised it bounced. That ball was crushed. When we saw it lift off, it was pretty exciting. It’s always fun to watch the big fella put one over the stands.”
Starling Marte singled off Edgar Gonzalez (0-1) leading off the ninth, and Snider hit into a forceout, with the Astros failing to turn a double play because of a late throw to first by Elmore.
McCutchen’s single put runners at the corners, and Gonzalez fielded Brandon Inge’s comebacker and dropped it for an error as he turned to throw to second, missing his chance to start an inning-ending double play.
Neil Walker took a called third strike with a full count, and Martin lifted a full-count pitch to short right-center field, where Elmore settled under the ball and Paredes slammed into him as the ball hit his glove and fell to the field.
Justin Wilson (4-0) pitched a scoreless ninth and McCutchen homered and had three hits for Pittsburgh.
Astros starter Jordan Lyles allowed two runs — one earned — and four hits in five innings and is 0-4 with a 6.75 ERA in six career starts against Pittsburgh.
Pirates starter Jeanmar Gomez gave up four runs — three earned — and five hits in 4 2-3 innings.
Houston built a 4-1 lead on Jason Castro’s sacrifice fly in the first and a three-run third that included Matt Dominguez’s solo homer, Elmore’s run-scoring single and a throwing error by Walker at second.
McCutchen homered in the first.
NOTES: The Pirates placed RHP Jose Contreras on the bereavement list and recalled RHP Jared Hughes from Triple-A Indianapolis. … LHP Erik Bedard (0-2, 6.67) will start Saturday night for Houston against RHP A.J. Burnett (3-4, 2.73). Bedard started on opening day last season for the Pirates and Burnett had the honor this season.