Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez was unimpressive in his first four starts after the Pirates acquired him July 24 via a trade with the Houston Astros. Some of that probably was due to him trying to do too much to impress his new club.

"I think he tried to validate the trade," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

The results have been better since Rodriguez was pressed into a relief outing in the 19-inning game Aug. 19 against the St. Louis Cardinals. He tossed two scoreless innings and picked up his first win with the Pirates.

"He's gotten himself back to a good place," Hurdle said.

It really showed Tuesday. Rodriguez suffocated the hapless Astros in a 6-2 victory the Pirates desperately needed to stay in the wild-card chase.