Though they have finally won a pair of close games, the Pittsburgh Pirates probably need to get better starting pitching to continue that trend as they continue a four-game set with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday.
Seven of Pittsburgh’s nine games have been decided by two runs or less, including five losses during an 0-6 start.
The Pirates got their first win on Sunday, 5-3 at Cincinnati, and beat the Dodgers 7-6 on Tuesday in the second game of this series despite starter Ian Snell allowing 10 hits and six runs in five innings.
“We’ve stayed in a lot of games, and we’re showing we can compete,” said Pittsburgh’s Jeromy Burnitz, who hit a two-run homer.
“This team is going to battle every night. There’s a lot of joy in the fight around here … and I think you’re going to see a lot of that all year.”
What the Pirates also have seen a lot of are poor performances from their rotation. Their starters have an 8.70 ERA over the last six games, allowing 43 hits and 18 walks in only 30 innings.
A day after falling into a five-run deficit after two innings in an 8-3 loss to Los Angeles, the Pirates had to come back from 3-0 and 5-2 deficits to even the series.
“I think it shows a lot about this team, this shows what we’re capable of,” said Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson, who had two RBIs to give him six over the last four games.
Casey, hitting .333 in his first season with the Pirates, could return for this game.
Paul Maholm takes the mound looking to prevent Pittsburgh from falling into another early hole against a Dodgers team which has scored two or more runs in the first inning six times in eight games.
Maholm lost his season debut as he set a career high with five walks in a 7-6 defeat to Cincinnati on Friday. He gave up five runs and five hits over six innings.
The rookie left-hander will be opposed by 10-year veteran Brett Tomko, who signed as a free agent with Los Angeles after two seasons in San Francisco.
Tomko won on his 33rd birthday in his debut for the Dodgers, allowing three runs and eight hits in six innings of a 5-3 victory Friday over Philadelphia.
The right-hander threw his only two complete games of the 2005 season against Pittsburgh and won both, allowing three runs and 10 hits in 18 innings while striking out 14. Tomko is 6-5 with a 4.28 ERA in 16 career appearances against the Pirates, including a 3-0 mark in four starts at PNC Park.
Another offseason acquisition and former Giant is off to a torrid start for the Dodgers. Third baseman Bill Mueller is batting .464 with eight RBIs.
He had two solo homers during his first career four-hit game on Tuesday. Mueller’s performance, however, wasn’t enough for Los Angeles to post its third straight win.
“I think we’re playing good baseball,” said Dodgers second baseman Jeff Kent, in a 1-for-16 slump. “We’re getting a lot of hits, scoring a lot of runs, despite playing in bad weather except for the last two days.”
Rain, however, is in the forecast for Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.