After getting swept in a four-game series by Houston, Pittsburgh, which was at .500 only five weeks ago, has lost eight of its last nine. The Pirates have been outscored 64-16 during that stretch, scoring one run or fewer in five of the losses. They are 1-7 since the All-Star break.
Duke provided Pittsburgh with its lone win since the break, pitching eight brilliant innings in a 3-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday. The left-hander gave up six hits and struck out four in just his third career starts, extending his scoreless innings streak to 17.
Duke, 22, lowered his ERA to 1.23, and continued to impress manager Lloyd McClendon.
“He’s a tough cookie,” McClendon said. “He knows what he’s doing out there. Today, he made some quality pitches when he needed to and got a lot of ground-ball double-play outs, and that’s always big in a close ballgame.”
With his team desperate for a victory, Pittsburgh outfielder Matt Lawton is hoping his team can rebound quickly against the last-place Rockies.
“Colorado’s a little easier than the Cubs and Astros, and hopefully we can take our frustrations out on them,” he said.
The Rockies might be in last place, but they are coming off their first road series win of the season after Wednesday night’s 3-2 victory over NL East-leading Washington.
“It feels like it has been that long,” Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said. “It is an accomplishment.”
The Rockies had lost 12 series and tied two on the road coming in, but took two of three games in Washington, each by one run.
“To win two games in this series by one run is ironic,” Closser said.
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