The Pittsburgh Pirates are a second-place team in a weak division. They may not remain there very long, however, unless their play at home improves.
The Pirates hope to take a step toward their first home series win in more than a month Friday night when they open a three-game set against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Pirates (23-30) were three outs away from a rare series win at PNC Park on Thursday against San Diego with closer Salomon Torres called on to protect a two-run lead in the ninth inning.
Torres, though, surrendered consecutive RBI doubles to Adrian Gonzalez and Mike Cameron and the Padres scored twice in the 11th for a 4-2 victory. Torres suffered his first blown save since April 25 and his fourth of the season.
“I’m very aggravated because we had this game,” Torres said. “I had him (Gonzalez) 0-and-2 and I gave him a rookie-ball 0-2 pitch. That was not acceptable.”
The defeat was particularly disappointing because Shawn Chacon worked seven scoreless innings, yielding three hits with one walk and 10 strikeouts.
“You couldn’t have asked for anything else, the job he did,” said Pirates manager Jim Tracy, who managed the Dodgers from 2001-05. “That’s a tough game to lose.”
It was the fourth loss in five home games for the Pirates, who are 10-16 at PNC Park. Pittsburgh has won only one of nine home series this season, a three-game sweep of Houston from April 24-26.
Bay is batting .518 (14-for-27) with three homers and 10 RBIs during a seven-game hitting streak.
After ending a long winless stretch in his last appearance, Zach Duke (2-5, 5.55 ERA) hopes to make it wins in back-to-back starts for Pittsburgh. The left-hander wasn’t sharp Sunday in a 14-10 win at Cincinnati, but was good enough to win for the first time since April 8. He gave up five runs—three earned—and seven hits in five innings.
Duke is 1-2 with an 8.15 ERA in three career starts against Los Angeles, losing the last two.
Dodgers manager Grady Little may want to insert Olmedo Saenz into his lineup. Saenz is 8-for-10 with two homers against Duke.
The Dodgers (31-22) failed in a bid to sweep three straight at Washington, falling 11-4 on Thursday. Los Angeles, which had won six of seven, outscored the Nationals 15-0 in the first two games of the series.
“We’re not playing American Legion baseball here or Division III college,” Little said. “These guys can play. You might … hold somebody down for a little bit, but sooner or later they’re going to bust out, and tonight they busted out on the L.A. Dodgers.”
Randy Wolf (6-3, 3.41) seeks to continue his run of excellent pitching. The left-hander has been outstanding lately, winning three straight decisions while compiling a 1.48 ERA in his last five starts. Wolf, third in the NL with 71 strikeouts, limited the Cubs to three hits in six scoreless innings Sunday in the Dodgers’ 2-1 victory in 11 innings.
Wolf won his third straight decision against the Pirates on April 20, yielding one run over six innings with one walk and 10 strikeouts. He is 4-1 with a 3.23 ERA in seven career starts against Pittsburgh.