Stark, who missed the first three months of the season with a torn muscle in his pitching shoulder, gave up eight runs and 11 hits in 3 2-3 innings against Milwaukee last Saturday, but did not get a decision as the Rockies rallied for a 13-8 win.
The right-hander has only one victory, but Colorado has won three of his five starts. Before his last outing, Stark had given eight earned runs in 23 innings.
The Rockies will be looking to bounce back after consecutive 10-inning losses at Cincinnati.
Chin-hui Tsao, the first Taiwanese pitcher in the majors, couldn’t provide an encore to his impressive debut against Milwaukee last Friday. The right-hander gave up eight hits and four runs in only 4 1-3 innings Thursday, walking one and hitting three batters. In the 10th, left-hander Brian Fuentes gave up a homer to the Jason LaRue as the Reds won 5-4.
The Rockies had won four straight, and six of eight, before their current slide.
The Pirates are coming off a 10-7 loss to San Diego on Thursday afternoon. Pittsburgh has lost four of six after winning five of six.
The Pirates don’t especially want to trade Giles, their most popular player and one of the NL’s most reliable run producers since joining them in 1999. However, the only way for the Pirates to trade high-priced catcher Jason Kendall, lower their payroll and give them more flexibility in adding lower-priced free agents may be to package Giles with Kendall.
Kendall and Giles will have to clear waivers before they can leave Pittsburgh, but the Padres—with an NL-worst 42-67 record—can claim a player before any other team in the league.
STANDINGS: Rockies - 3rd place (tied), 13 GB, NL West. Pirates - 4th place, 8 1/2 GB, NL Central.
ROCKIES PROBABLE STARTER: Stark (1-0, 5.40 ERA). Stark has faced the Pirates only once before, but did not get a decision after giving up four runs and nine hits in five innings.
PIRATES PROBABLE STARTER: Salomon Torres (5-3, 4.07 ERA). The right-hander, who has shuffled between the rotation and bullpen, is making his 10th start and 35th appearance of the season. He made a relief appearance against Colorado on June 27, and struck out the only batter he faced in Pittsburgh’s 5-3 win. Torres is 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in four career appearances, including two starts, against the Rockies.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Rockies - Todd Helton, .348 avg. and 97 runs; Preston Wilson, 28 HRs and 104 RBIs; Tony Womack, 11 SBs. Pirates - Giles, .305 avg. and 60 RBIs; Reggie Sanders, 21 HRs and 7 SBs; Kendall, 60 runs.
SEASON SERIES: Pirates, 2-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Rockies - RF Larry Walker was back in the lineup Thursday after missing three games with a sore hamstring. He was 0-for-4 and grounded into a double play. … Despite closing July with two losses, the Rockies finished the month with a winning record for only the second time in the franchise’s 11-year history. The went 17-11 in July 1995 and 14-13 this year. … Only three current Rockies—3B Mark Bellhorn, 2B/SS Juan Uribe, SS Womack—have faced RHP Torres before. Bellhorn is 1-for-7 with a walk against him, Uribe is 0-for-1, and Womack has a double and a walk. Pirates - Prior to walking in the fourth inning, 3B Jose Hernandez was two strikeouts short of pitcher Tommie Sisk’s 1966 club record of striking out in 10 consecutive at-bats. Hernandez leads the majors with 136 strikeouts. … Despite losing two of three to San Diego, the Pirates went 15-13 in July, giving them their first winning record in the month since 1997. … 3B Hernandez will be facing the Rockies for the first time since they traded him to Chicago on June 19. The Pirates acquired him from the Cubs on July 22.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Rockies - 18-38 on the road; Pirates - 23-31 at home.
INJURIES: Rockies - RHP Nelson Cruz (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Denny Neagle (elbow), 15-day DL; OF Chris Richard (shoulder), 60-day DL. Pirates - RHP Kris Benson (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Dave Williams (shoulder), 60-day DL; INF Pat Meares (hand), 60-day DL; INF Pokey Reese (thumb), 60-day DL.
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