Astros 7, Pirates 1: Jed Lowrie belted a three-run homer and Justin Maxwell launched his team-leading 17th blast as host Houston continued Pittsburgh's downward spiral.
Garrett Jones hit his 24th homer in the eighth inning for the Pirates, who suffered their 16th loss in 20 outings to remain 5 1/2 games behind St. Louis in the race for the National League's second wild card. The Cardinals dropped a 5-4 decision in 10 innings to the Chicago Cubs earlier on Friday.
After sitting out Thursday's contest, Lowrie wasted little time extending his hitting streak to six games as he deposited a fastball from starter Jeff Locke (0-2) just inside the left-field foul pole. Lowrie's 15th homer matched his combined total of his previous two seasons.
Fernando Rodriguez (2-10) relieved injured starter Edgar Gonzalez and struck out four over 3 1/3 innings to pick up the victory. Brett Wallace homered and had an RBI triple as the Astros snapped a three-game skid.
Seven pitchers combined on the seven-hitter for Houston, with reliever Mickey Storey striking out the side in the seventh inning.
GAME NOTEBOOK: Locke suffered his second loss to Houston after yielding three runs on as many hits in five innings. ... Gonzalez exited the contest after 1 2/3 innings with a strained right hamstring. ... Pirates rookie Starling Marte recorded his second consecutive multi-hit effort.