Washington (39-32) at Pittsburgh (29-39)

Fair Currently: Pittsburgh, PA
Temp: 58° F
  • Game info: 12:35 pm EDT Thu Jun 19, 2003
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Tomo Ohka knows he has been struggling lately. He’ll try to forget about his problems and help the Montreal Expos snap their season-high six-game losing streak.

Ohka will take the mound for the finale of the Expos’ three-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. After Tuesday’s series opener was rained out, the Pirates swept a makeup doubleheader on Wednesday.

For the Expos to salvage a game in the series, they’ll need Ohka to be much better than he was on Friday. He lasted just 2 1-3 innings, allowing seven runs and six hits in an 8-4 loss to the Oakland Athletics. It marked the third time this season he failed to get out of the third inning.

“I threw some balls up high and they hit them pretty good,” Ohka said. “That cost me the game. It had nothing to do with my mechanics.”

Ohka, however, will certainly be looking for a better result as the Expos try to end their losing streak.

After Pittsburgh won the opener of Wednesday’s doubleheader 7-3, Jason Kendall hit a two-run double in the ninth inning of the second game to give the Pirates a 4-3 victory. It was their first doubleheader sweep since Sept. 8, 2000, against the Cincinnati Reds.

The sweep also ran the Pirates’ winning streak to four games.

“I told our guys we’ve played a lot of good baseball and we deserve to celebrate,” Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said. “Let’s go up there and put some good at-bats together, and that’s exactly what they did.”

The Expos, meanwhile, were swept in a doubleheader for the third time in their 25-day, 22-game trip away from Olympic Stadium. The first two sweeps came May 28 at Florida and June 1 at Philadelphia.

“Baseball delivers some tough blows sometimes, but we’ve got to keep going,” Expos catcher Michael Barrett said. “We’re playing a little bit out of character … and when you do that, everybody tends to put more pressure on themselves.”

The Expos, who are 7-14 on the trip, return to Montreal on Friday to open a three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays.

STANDINGS: Expos - 2nd place, 8 GB, NL East. Pirates - 5th place, 9 GB, NL Central.

EXPOS PROBABLE STARTER: Ohka (4-7, 5.55 ERA). In two career games against the Pirates, Ohka is 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA.

PIRATES PROBABLE STARTER: Kip Wells (2-3, 3.63 ERA). Wells has allowed three earned runs or fewer in three of his last four starts. On Friday, he worked seven innings, giving up three runs and six hits in an eventual 7-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. In two career games against the Expos, the 26-year-old right-hander is 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA.

OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Expos - Jose Vidro, .328 avg.; Orlando Cabrera, 10 HRs, 37 RBIs and 46 runs; Endy Chavez, 11 SBs. Pirates - Aramis Ramirez, .301 avg.; Reggie Sanders, 8 HRs; Ramirez and Randall Simon, 37 RBIs; Kenny Lofton, 43 runs and 13 SBs.

SEASON SERIES: Pirates, 2-0.

STREAKS AND NOTES: Expos - Of Montreal’s seven wins on their 22-game trip, five have come by two runs or fewer, including four one-run wins. … The Expos have just one multi-run inning in their last seven games. … The Expos are batting .320 (16-for-50) with the bases loaded this season. Pirates - C Kendall is 4-for-7 (.571) with two doubles in his career against RHP Ohka. … LHP Scott Sauerbeck pitched in both games Wednesday and has appeared in five straight games. … CF Lofton returned to the lineup on Wednesday after sitting out two games with a sore foot.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Expos - 16-21 on the road; Pirates - 11-21 at home.

INJURIES: Expos - OF Vladimir Guerrero (back), 15-day DL; RHP Tony Armas Jr. (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Zach Day (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Orlando Hernandez (shoulder), 15-day DL. Pirates - INF Pat Meares (hand), 60-day DL; INF Pokey Reese (thumb), 60-day DL; RHP Mike Lincoln (shoulder), 60-day DL.

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Starting Pitchers

T. Ohka Cle vs. K. Wells SD
10-12 Record 10-9
4.16 ERA 3.28
118 K 147
45 BB 76
1.40 WHIP 1.25