In another losing season, the Pittsburgh Pirates are still optimistic.
After sweeping the NL Central leaders in convincing fashion, the Pirates look for their fourth win in a row when they start a three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers at PNC Park on Monday.
Pittsburgh (45-73) outscored St. Louis 17-3 over the weekend en route to its first three-game sweep at home over the Cardinals since June 28-30, 2004.
The sweep also came after a five-game losing streak.
“This was a huge confidence builder for us,” said Pirates starter Paul Maholm, who got the win Sunday in a 7-0 victory. “This shows us how we can play. Now that we’ve set the tone, we’re going to play like that for a long time now.”
Pittsburgh has three series sweeps this season, one of which was a four-game home sweep of Milwaukee (55-62) from May 29-June 1 in which the Pirates outscored the Brewers 36-8.
With scheduled starter Shawn Chacon unable to go because of a knee injury that may require surgery, Victor Santos (4-7, 5.58 ERA) will again face his former team when he makes his first start since June 15.
Santos allowed five runs, seven hits and four walks in a 6-5 loss to the Cardinals in his last start and was placed on the DL three days later with a rotator cuff injury. He’s not done much better since returning. In 12 innings over five appearances, the right-hander has given up 14 runs and 21 hits— including five homers.
Two of those homers allowed came on July 24 when he pitched 2 2-3 innings in relief of Zach Duke in a 12-8 loss to the Brewers.
Santos was 15-25 with a 4.78 ERA from 2004-05 with Milwaukee.
Milwaukee comes into this contest having dropped two of three against Atlanta, including a 7-4 loss on Sunday.
Tony Graffanino’s two-run double in a three-run seventh helped the Brewers tie the score at 4, but his fielding error in the bottom half helped the Braves regain the lead with three unearned runs.
“I kind of lost it a little bit,” Graffanino said of the throw from first baseman Prince Fielder throw. “It was low, and I was trying to get it. I expected it high. … Bottom line, I should have caught it.”
Dave Bush (8-8, 4.67), a Pittsburgh native, will get the start against his hometown team and seek his third straight win. In his two wins this month, the right-hander has given up just three runs and eight hits over 14 innings for a 1.93 ERA.
Bush took a no-hit bid into the sixth inning as Milwaukee beat the Cubs 6-3 Wednesday.
“Bushie had good stuff,” Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said. “He was effectively wild. He had trouble commanding his stuff at times, but made huge pitches when he needed to. He wasn’t razor sharp … but did a great job.”
Bush is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA in two career starts, both coming this season, against the Pirates.