Pittsburgh (25-35) at Toronto (34-30)

Cloudy Currently: Toronto, ON
Temp: 37° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Tue Jun 10, 2003
Preview | Box Score | Recap

After enjoying the longest winning streak of his career, Cory Lidle is struggling to regain his form.

The right-hander looks to end a two-start losing skid when the Toronto Blue Jays host the Pittsburgh Pirates in the opener of a three-game interleague series.

Among the major league leaders in wins, Lidle rode a career-best seven-game winning streak from April 16-May 24 during which he had a 4.18 ERA but benefitted from Toronto’s explosive offense.

The run was snapped with a 3-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox on May 29. Lidle followed the setback with his worst start of the season, surrendering season-highs of eight runs and 12 hits over five innings in Wednesday’s 8-5 loss to St. Louis.

“My breaking ball wasn’t very sharp and I didn’t use it as much as I usually do,” Lidle said. “It’s tough not knowing their hitters and not having a solid plan going in.”

The Blue Jays took two of three from the Cincinnati Reds with Sunday’s 5-0 win as Kelvim Escobar pitched a five-hitter for his third career shutout.

The Pirates have lost five of six, including Sunday’s 6-5 loss to the Atlanta Braves.

Aramis Ramirez had two hits to extend his hitting streak to a career-high 20 games. He is batting .435 (37-for-85) during the stretch, raising his average from .218 to .300.

Brian Giles went 2-for-2 with three walks and was 6-for-7 in the series.

“They have just been incredible swinging the bat,” right fielder Reggie Sanders said of the Braves. “We scored some runs, something we hadn’t been doing, and every time we scored, they had an answer for it.”

STANDINGS: Pirates - 5th place, 9 1/2 GB, NL Central. Blue Jays - 3rd place, 2 1/2 GB, AL East.

PIRATES PROBABLE STARTER: Kris Benson (5-6, 4.23 ERA). Benson is 1-1 with a 5.73 ERA over his last three starts and is coming off one of his worst outings of the season. The right-hander allowed eight runs—seven earned—and 12 hits, including two homers, in Wednesday’s 11-4 loss to Boston. He struck out four and walked one. He makes his first career start against Toronto.

BLUE JAYS PROBABLE STARTER: Cory Lidle (5-4, 4.80 ERA). In six career appearances against Pittsburgh, including two starts, Lidle is 0-1 with a 4.96 ERA.

OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Pirates - Kenny Lofton, .306 avg., 42 runs and 12 SBs; Sanders, 8 HRs; Randall Simon, 37 RBIs. Blue Jays - Frank Catalanotto, .329 avg.; Carlos Delgado, 19 HRs, 67 RBIs and 56 runs; Orlando Hudson, 4 SBs.

INTERLEAGUE: Pirates - 1-2; Blue Jays - 2-4.

STREAKS AND NOTES: Pirates - Pittsburgh has won three of its last four series. … The Pirates optioned INF Rob Mackowiak to Triple-A Nashville after Sunday’s loss but have yet to replace him on the roster. … RHP Mike Lincoln, on the 60-day DL since March 31 with a bruised right shoulder, started his injury rehab assignment with Nashville on Sunday. Blue Jays - Toronto is the highest-scoring team in the majors with 6.2 runs per game. … 1B Delgado and CF Vernon Wells were a combined 10-for-27 with four homers and 12 RBI in the three-game series against the Reds. … The Blue Jays became the last AL team to pitch a shutout Sunday.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Pirates - 16-14 on the road; Blue Jays - 14-14 at home.

INJURIES: Pirates - OF Matt Stairs (finger), 15-day DL; RHP Lincoln (shoulder), 60-day DL; LHP Dave Williams (shoulder), 60-day DL; INF Pat Meares (hand), 60-day DL; INF Pokey Reese (thumb), 60-day DL. Blue Jays - INF Eric Hinske (hand), 15-day DL; OF Shannon Stewart (hamstring), 15-day DL; RHP Pete Walker (knee), 15-day DL; LHP Doug Creek (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Bob File (shoulder), 60-day DL.

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Starting Pitchers

K. Benson ARI vs. C. Lidle NYY
5-9 Record 12-15
4.97 ERA 5.75
68 K 112
36 BB 60
1.55 WHIP 1.43