Bucs lose Jakubauskas, game to Astros

Bucs lose Jakubauskas, game to Astros

HOUSTON -- The Pittsburgh Pirates suffered more than just a loss to the Houston Astros on Saturday night. Pirates starting pitcher Chris Jakubauskas was hit on the back of the head, above the right ear, by a line drive off the bat of the Astros' Lance Berkman.

Results of a CAT scan from Methodist Hospital were negative, and the club should know more about Jakubauskas' condition on Sunday. The news on the field wasn't good for the Pirates, either, as the Astros won, 5-2, on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park. The loss was Pittsburgh's fifth straight and second in as many days to Houston

For the Bucs, the game was secondary to the health of Jakubauskas, who was making his 2010 Major League debut after being called up on Friday from Triple-A Indianapolis.

It seemed inconsequential that the Pirates loaded the bases in the top of the ninth inning off Matt Lindstrom with the go-ahead run at the plate. Lindstrom preserved the win for Wandy Rodriguez (1-2) and collected his sixth save by getting Ronny Cedeno to fly out to Hunter Pence in right field to end the game.

Pittsburgh manager John Russell and the players said that their thoughts were with Jakubauskas, who only threw 12 pitches; Berkman was the fourth batter he faced. Jakubauskas' final pitch to Berkman came on a 1-0 count, with two outs in the inning.

"It was very frightening," said Russell. "It puts the game in perspective."

It could have been a lot worse for Jakubauskas, who was to remain hospitalized overnight for observation.

"It's as good as could be expected," said Russell. "So far, so good."

The ball from Berkman's bat hit Jakubauskas squarely and ricocheted back to home plate.

"The ball was murdered," said Pirates reliever Jack Taschner. "Obviously you could tell it was serious by the reaction of Berkman."

After reaching first base safely, Berkman immediately ran toward the mound, along with Pirates players, to check on Jakubauskas.

"I talked to [Berkman], and he was really shaken up by it," said Bobby Crosby. "He really cared. He's a good guy. The fans in Houston should be very proud of Berkman."

Jakubauskas never lost consciousness and was talking immediately, in obvious pain after falling on the mound.

"It's better than him being silent," said Pirates third baseman Andy LaRoche, who had two of Pittsburgh's seven hits. "It shows you it's only a game. It's tough to get back in the game and focus after that."

Jakubauskas was brought up to help improve the starting rotation. He was throwing the ball well in pregame warmups.

"His stuff was lights out in the bullpen," said Pirates catcher Jason Jaramillo, whose seventh-inning home run off Rodriguez on a 0-2 pitch cut the Astros' lead to 5-2.

It's been a rough week for Pittsburgh, which arrived in Houston after being swept in a three-game series with Milwaukee and was outscored 36-1, including Thursday's 20-0 loss, the worst in the 124-year history of the franchise.

"Funks like that are going to happen," said Jaramillo, who started at catcher in place of Ryan Doumit. "We have character on this team and we'll bounce back."

The Pirates made a late charge on Saturday that came up short.

Entering the top of the ninth inning, Pittsburgh trailed, 5-2. Lindstrom replaced Brandon Lyon, who retired both batters he faced in the eighth inning.

Lindstrom retired his first two batters before the Pirates made the game interesting with two hits and a walk. With two outs, LaRoche singled to left, snapping a streak of 22 consecutive hitters retired by the Astros' bullpen, a stretch that spanned four games.

With LaRoche on first, Doumit, pinch-hitting, singled to right, putting runners at first and second. Pinch-hitter Delwyn Young followed with a walk to load the bases and put some suspense in the game.

Then, Lindstrom settled down and retired Cedeno on a fly ball to right that gave Pence no trouble.

In 7 1/3 innings, Rodriguez allowed two runs, one earned, on five hits, with seven strikeouts and one walk. Rodriguez was effective at the plate, too, contributing one of the Astros' season-high 13 hits off six Pirates pitchers.

For the Astros, Pedro Feliz had two hits, including a two-run home run in the fifth that gave Houston a 5-1 lead.

Pence had two hits, including a two-run double in the first to make it 2-0. Pence was the first batter D.J. Carrasco faced after replacing Jakubauskas, and his double scored Michael Bourn and Berkman, who both singled. Shortstop Tommy Manzella also had two hits for Houston, which has won six of its last seven games.

The Pirates made it 2-1 in the third on Andrew McCutchen's single up the middle, scoring Cedeno, who reached first on a fielding error at third by Feliz.

After being blown out by Milwaukee, the Pirates played the Astros close but still dropping the first two games of the three-game series, which concludes on Sunday. Houston won, 4-3, on Friday.

The Pirates' bullpen was taxed on Saturday, but Russell wasn't too concerned with the pitching situation following the game. He was thinking of Jakubauskas.

"[The bullpen is] the least thing I'm worried about," said Russell.

Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.