Pittsburgh (35-62) at Miami (42-52)

Fair Currently: Miami Gardens, FL
Temp: 88° F
  • Game info: 7:35 pm EDT Fri Jul 21, 2006
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Pittsburgh Pirates may have the worst record in the National League, but they have been one of the toughest teams to beat since the All-Star break.

The Pirates try to win three straight games for the first time in more than a month when they continue their four-game series against the Florida Marlins at Dolphin Stadium on Friday.

Pittsburgh (35-62) defeated the Marlins 5-3 on Thursday to improve to 5-2 since the All-Star break. Only Minnesota has more second half victories among major league clubs.

The Pirates now have as many victories since the break as they did in their final 26 games before it. They have not won three consecutive games since June 9-11.

Rookie Nate McLouth tied Thursday’s game when he led off the eighth inning with his fifth home run of the season, and Jeromy Burnitz knocked in the game-winning run with a single in the ninth.

Pittsburgh is 4-0 in games decided by two runs or less since the break after going 15-32 in those contests in the first half of the season.

“We’ve been in a lot of situations where we’ve had leads and not held them, or come back but not far enough,” All-Star outfielder Jason Bay said. “Now we’ve been holding those leads. It’s a lot easier to do that when you get into a rhythm and have a little fun.”

Bay extended his hitting streak to a season-high 11 games with a two-run homer in the fourth inning. He is hitting .378 (14-for-37) with two homers and 11 RBIs during the run.

The Pirates have now won the opening game of their last five series, but are 1-3 in the second contest.

Florida (42-52) is 4-4 since the All-Star break, and has not lost consecutive home games in the same series since July 1 and 2 against Boston.

Shortstop Henley Ramirez had a RBI double on Thursday, and is 8-for-22 (.364) with three homers and six RBIs in his last six games.

Scott Olsen (7-4, 4.28 ERA) tries to build off his first win in a month when he takes the mound Friday. Olsen allowed three runs and six hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 9-3 victory over Houston on Sunday, his first win since June 16.

“I didn’t have control of my fastball the way I wanted,” said Olsen, who is 1-1 with a 3.34 ERA in his last five starts. “I couldn’t get ahead with my fastball, so I couldn’t throw my slider. I was able to escape with only three runs, which was a positive.”

The 22-year-old left-hander is 3-1 with a 1.78 ERA in his last four home starts.

Olsen allowed three runs and six hits in six innings to win his only career game against Pittsburgh, a 4-3 victory on May 13.

The Pirates counter with rookie Paul Maholm (3-8, 5.05), who is 1-6 with a 6.31 ERA in nine road games this season. Maholm allowed three runs and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings of an 8-4, 11-inning loss to Washington on Sunday. He is 1-4 with a 6.04 ERA in his last eight starts.

The 24-year-old left-hander has never faced the Marlins.

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Starting Pitchers

P. Maholm Cin vs. S. Olsen Tex
8-10 Record 12-10
4.76 ERA 4.04
117 K 166
81 BB 75
1.61 WHIP 1.30