Jason Bay is giving Pirates fans something to cheer for in an othewise miserable season.
Bay looks to homer in his seventh straight game when Pittsburgh (16-34) meets the Milwaukee Brewers (26-24) in the start of a three-game series at PNC Park on Monday.
With a solo homer in fourth inning against Houston on Sunday, Bay became the first Pirates player to homer in six straight games since Dale Long did it en route to a record eight in a row in 1956.
Bay and Houston’s Morgan Ensberg are the only NL players to homer in six consecutive games this season. Texas’ Kevin Mench homered in seven straight games from April 21-28, one short of the record set by Long and matched by Don Mattingly in 1987 and Ken Griffey Jr. six years later.
Bay already has set a Pirates record with 11 homers in May, breaking the record of 10 shared previously by five players. Coming off a breakout 2005 season in which he hit a career-high 32 homers, Bay hit his first of the new season on April 5 against Milwaukee’s Tomo Ohka.
Despite Bay’s latest homer, Pittsburgh wasted a four-run lead heading into the ninth inning and fell 5-4 in 10 to deny the Pirates their first three-game winning streak of the season.
“It’s real tough when you’re up 4-0 and then, boom, it’s 4-4,” Bay said. “That’s definitely going to suck the life out of a team.”
To try and end Bay’s streak, Milwaukee will send Doug Davis (3-3, 4.86 ERA) to the mound as he looks to win consecutive starts for the second time this season.
The left-hander held Cincinnati to two runs and five hits with four strikeouts and three walks over seven innings of a 6-2 victory on Wednesday.
“I thought I was making my pitches for most of the night,” Davis said. “My changeup was big all night. If you stay out of the big inning, you have a chance to go deep in the game.”
The win was his first since May 4 when he threw six shutout innings in a 7-4 victory over the San Francisco Giants to his second straight start. He earned his first win of the season on April 29 over the Chicago Cubs.
Davis was Milwaukee’s opening day starting pitcher on April 3 against Pittsburgh but did not get a decision after giving up two runs and six hits in six innings of a 5-2 Brewers’ win. Milwaukee went on to sweep the series.
Overall, Davis is 3-2 with a 3.71 ERA in 12 career starts against the Pirates.
Zach Duke (2-6, 4.36 ERA) will start a day earlier than planned when he takes the mound for Pittsburgh. Victor Santos was the scheduled starter in the opener, but Pittsburgh was forced to use him on Saturday in an 8-7 win in 18 innings.
“The program is set so that if there is a different day (to start) it’s easy to recover,” said Duke, a left-hander. “I’m going to be fully recovered.”
Duke also is looking to avoid extending his career-high losing streak to five games. In his last four starts, Duke has a 5.76 ERA with 20 strikeouts and 10 walks in 25 innings.
He allowed five runs—four earned—and nine hits with five strikeouts through six innings of an 8-7 loss to Arizona on Wednesday. Duke’s lone career win against the Brewers came on Oct. 2.