The Pittsburgh Pirates opened their seven-game trip as the worst road team in the major leagues. That may not be the case for long.
The Pirates (22-36) try to win two in a row on the road for the first time this season when they meet the Colorado Rockies (27-30) in the middle contest of a three-game set Tuesday.
The Pirates were 4-22 on the road entering Monday’s matchup, but used 12 hits and a strong performance from starter Ian Snell to beat Colorado 5-2. Pittsburgh has won eight of its last 11 games, outscoring opponents 71-39, and seven of its last nine contests at Coors Field.
The Pirates are closing in on Kansas City’s 6-26 road mark, second-worst in the majors.
Pittsburgh left fielder Jason Bay was 2-for-3 in the victory and is batting .515 (17-for-33) with six doubles and 11 RBIs during a nine-game hitting streak against the Rockies.
Bay has a hit in 13 of his last 14 games, with a .382 average (21-for-55) in that span. He hit seven homers during a six-game home run streak from May 22-28, and had 12 homers in May to set a Pirates record for the month.
“I don’t know that there is a hotter hitter in the league,” Pirates manager Jim Tracy said. “With the type of at-bats that he’s taking right now, I think you’re beginning to see a guy that is reaching for a level beyond what you’ve see him do here the last couple of years. I think you are going to continue to see him do that.”
Bay was named the NL’s player of the month for May on Monday while teammate Jose Castillo was chosen NL player of the week.
Snell had a career-high 10 strikeouts on Monday for the Pirates, who have held seven of their last eight opponents to four runs or less.
Paul Maholm (2-4, 4.36 ERA) looks to follow up Snell’s performance and earn his first road win of the season for Pittsburgh. The left-hander, 0-3 with a 5.31 ERA away from home, will make his first career start against Colorado.
Maholm has not received a decision in his last three outings, including a 4-3 loss to Milwaukee on Thursday when he gave up two runs and eight hits over seven innings.
“Overall, I thought it was a great outing,” Maholm said. “I kind of hit a groove.”
While the Pirates continue to surge, the Rockies have lost a season-high six straight and 11 of 13. They have scored three runs or less in all 11 losses and have been held to single-digit hit totals in 10 of them.
Colorado first baseman Todd Helton was 2-for-4 on Monday to extend his hitting streak to eight games, while right fielder Brad Hawpe went 3-for-4 to improve to 5-for-7 in his last two contests against Pittsburgh.
Jeff Francis (3-5, 3.80) tries to avoid losing his third consecutive start when he takes the mound for Colorado. The left-hander allowed three runs in 5 2-3 innings and tied a season high with seven strikeouts Wednesday, but lost 3-2 to San Diego.
“I pitched well for five innings, but that’s not what a pitcher wants,” said Francis, who had a one-hitter through the first five innings. “He wants to pitch well for the whole time he’s out there. You look at the end result—you pitch 5 2-3 innings and give up three runs (two earned)—that’s not the best.”
Francis has not been the best against the Pirates either, going 0-2 in two career starts with a 16.20 ERA and a .533 opponents’ batting average, his worst numbers against any team.
Pittsburgh placed catcher Ryan Doumit on the 15-day disabled list Monday with a torn left hamstring, an injury that could cause him to miss up to two months.
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