Rick Reuschel, 36, just recalled from the minors, held Houston to a run on three hits in 7 2/3 innings in his first major-league start since last Aug. 10 as the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Astros, 3-2, last night in Pittsburgh.

"I'm just glad to be here," said Reuschel, who has had a sore shoulder for four years. "It's a pleasure to go out there and be able to throw without pain, to do the things that I can do."

"He threw only 40 pitches in the first five innings," his manager, Chuck Tanner, said. "He was just excellent. I've seen him throw pitches this year he hasn't thrown in years."

Reuschel won 125 games for the Chicago Cubs in 1972-1981 but has only 11 victories since then. He signed a minor-league contract with the Pirates Feb. 28.

He retired 15 of the first 16 batters but fell four outs short of what would have been only his second complete game since 1981. Reluctant reliever John Candelaria came on with two out in the eighth.

He allowed a run in the ninth, earned his sixth save, then said that "it's time to move on."

He said that Tanner "has blocked some trades in the past, but he said he won't block any more. It's just time to go on."

"I guarantee you we won't trade him just to trade him," Tanner, as usual, said. "We'll have to get value received for value given."