The Pittsburgh Pirates haven’t had much to be happy about at PNC Park this season, but they’re hoping that’s starting to change.
The Pirates look for back-to-back home victories when they continue a three-game interleague series with the Texas Rangers on Wednesday.
Pittsburgh (27-37) owns the NL’s worst home mark at 12-19, but opened a six-game homestand with a 7-5 victory over the Rangers (23-41) on Tuesday. Jose Bautista went 3-for-5 with a homer and two RBIs while Xavier Nady and Adam LaRoche each added home runs for the Pirates.
The victory was the fourth in 13 overall games for Pittsburgh and helped the team bounce back from a three-game sweep by the New York Yankees.
“It was nice to get off to a good start here,” said LaRoche, whose team earned its first win in seven all-time meetings with Texas. “Obviously it’s great to be back home and get out of New York. Hopefully we can all forget about that real soon.”
They’re hosting a Rangers club that is 9-23 on the road - worst in the majors - and is trying to avoid losing four straight road games for the third time in 2007. Texas has also dropped 14 of its last 19 overall.
Many of the Rangers’ struggles are due to a starting rotation that has posted a major league-worst 6.92 ERA, including 9.57 with a .365 opponent batting average in the last 19 contests.
Robinson Tejeda (5-6, 6.47 ERA), the only Texas starter to last past the sixth inning since May 27, takes the ball on Wednesday.
The right-hander, though, has struggled along with the rest of the rotation. He is 1-3 with an 11.29 ERA and a .342 opponent batting average over his last four starts. On Friday against Milwaukee, he surrendered six runs and eight hits - including a season-high three homers - but lasted 6 2-3 innings to earn credit for the Rangers’ 9-6 victory.
“We needed somebody to go far in the game,” said Tejeda, who was battling a blister problem on his hand. “That helps the other starters and also helps the bullpen.”
Tejeda lost his only meeting with Pittsburgh on Aug. 19, 2005, giving up six runs in 3 2-3 innings of an 11-2 defeat while with Philadelphia.
He will be opposed by Ian Snell (5-4, 2.91), who looks for another efficient outing. The right-hander needed just 86 pitches to get through seven innings on Thursday, allowing two runs and three hits, but didn’t earn a decision in a 3-2 victory over Washington.
Snell has pitched into the sixth inning in all but one start in 2007, but the Pirates have scored three or fewer runs for him in 11 of his 13 outings.
He has never faced the Rangers.