The Pittsburgh Pirates have played well at PNC Park all season, but not this well.
The Pirates (21-35) will try to conclude their 10-game homestand with their third straight series win when they meet the San Diego Padres (29-26) in the finale of a three-game set.
Pittsburgh took two of three contests from Houston to open the homestand, then swept Milwaukee in four games. The Pirates dropped their rain-shortened series opener 7-0 to San Diego on Friday, but recorded a 6-4 victory on Saturday after a rain delay of one hour, 36 minutes.
Pittsburgh will also go for its first home series win against San Diego in the six-year history of PNC Park.
“That’s what’s going to get our club back to where I’d like to see it go,” said Pirates manager Jim Tracy. “The way we are going to get there is by winning series. We have an opportunity to do that again (on Sunday).”
Pittsburgh improved to 17-13 at home this season on Saturday and is outscoring opponents 66-36 during its current homestand while batting .320, a big boost from its .265 season average.
“Everybody has been swinging the bats well,” said Pirates catcher Ronny Paulino, who went 2-for-3 with three RBIs Saturday. “Everyone is playing together. We are getting better as a team. We stayed aggressive.”
Victor Santos (3-5, 4.94 ERA) will go for his first three-game winning streak in nearly two years when he takes the mound for Pittsburgh. The right-hander allowed just one run and three hits while striking out five over six innings in a 12-1 victory over Milwaukee on Tuesday.
Prior to that outing, he recorded a win in his only relief outing of the season on May 27, pitching a scoreless 18th inning as the Pirates defeated the Astros 8-7 in the longest major league game this season.
Santos is 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA in six career appearances versus San Diego and has struggled with his control, issuing 15 walks over 20 innings in those contests.
Santos will be opposed by former Pirates prospect Chris Young (4-3, 3.80), who is also coming off a dominant performance. The right-hander did not allow a hit until the eighth inning of Tuesday’s 2-0 victory over Colorado, when he gave up a double to Rockies right fielder Brad Hawpe.
“Really, I tried not to focus on it,” Young said of nearly getting a no-hitter. “Obviously it was in the back of my mind. More importantly, I wanted to preserve the lead and make sure that we win the ballgame. I’d give up 15 hits to get a win.”
Young walked two and struck out a season-high eight while allowing just the one hit over eight innings in the victory. He is 2-0 with a 2.76 ERA away from home this season.
Young was the Pirates’ third-round pick in the 2000 draft, but was traded to Montreal after two minor league seasons. This is his first time facing the franchise which drafted him.
“I’m very thankful for the opportunity they gave me to my introduction to professional baseball,” Young said.
Saturday’s defeat snapped a three-game winning streak for the Padres, who have dropped six of their last eight away from home.