Benson looks to turn in another strong performance as the Pirates open a four-game series with the Montreal Expos in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Benson allowed just two earned runs and eight hits in seven innings of Saturday’s 5-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers. The victory was just the second in seven starts for the right-hander, who went 1-3 in June despite posting a 3.31 ERA and holding opposing batters to a .203 average.
“He had the good fastball, but he didn’t have the other stuff to complement it,” Pittsburgh manager Lloyd McClendon said of Benson. “But he continued to pitch in and down in the zone for the most part.
“He did a fine job. I was really proud of him, and I told him so.”
Benson becomes a free agent after this season, and the Pirates do not plan to re-sign him, making him a prime target for teams in the market for pitchers as the July 31 trade deadline approaches.
“I know people are up there and certain teams are watching me, and maybe I think about that two hours before a game,” Benson said. “But when it’s two minutes before the game, I’m thinking only about getting the Brewers’ hitters out and making my pitches.”
Benson, bothered by injuries in the past, has been durable of late, lasting at least seven innings in each of his last six starts. He leads the team with 103 innings this year.
“I just feel real comfortable with the mechanics I have,” said Benson. “It’s given me more confidence with every pitch that I throw. I feel good coming into every start now know that things are in order.”
The Pirates beat Florida 4-3 on Wednesday, one day after having their 10-game winning streak snapped. Tike Redman had two hits and an RBI, and Bobby Hill and Rob Mackowiak doubled in a run for Pittsburgh.