Pittsburgh has struggled at the plate recently, but luckily for the Pirates, so have the Florida Marlins.
The Pirates go for back-to-back road wins for the first time in a month when they continue a three-game series with the Marlins on Wednesday night at Dolphin Stadium.
Pittsburgh (32-44) scored seven runs and hit .199 during a five-game losing streak, but finally snapped that skid with a 3-2 victory over Florida (36-41) in Tuesday’s opener. Jack Wilson went 2-for-4 with the go-ahead homer and two RBIs for the Pirates, who won despite being held to three or fewer runs for the 37th time this season.
“We find ourselves in games like tonight day after day after day,” manager Jim Tracy told the Pirates’ official Web site. “If we get to the point where we start opening some of these games up, it’ll be interesting to see where everything goes.”
Florida’s offense also hasn’t done much lately as the squad has been outscored 21-7 during a three-game skid while batting just .206. Dan Uggla has been a bright spot, though, hitting four homers in the last six games, including a 443-foot solo shot on Tuesday.
“This season has been so up and down for me, I am just trying to level it out to where I can be more consistent,” said Uggla, who is batting .372 during his career versus the Pirates. “But don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to discourage any of these hot streaks I have been on.”
Florida is enduring a dismal stretch at home, losing 10 of its last 13 games there. Pittsburgh won on the road for just the second time in 10 games, and can win consecutive away games for the first time since a three-game run May 25-27.
The Pirates will hand the ball to John Van Benschoten (0-2, 4.22 ERA), who is making his third start of the season. The right-hander was called up from Triple-A Indianapolis on June 15 to replace Shawn Chacon in the rotation.
Van Benschoten has allowed five runs through 10 2-3 innings, but gotten just one total run of support in consecutive defeats. He held Seattle to three runs and six hits over five innings on Thursday, but lost 3-0.
Van Benschoten, who was Pittsburgh’s first-round pick in 2001, has never faced Florida.
He will be opposed by Sergio Mitre (2-3, 2.34), who is hoping to finally get some support of his own.
Mitre, who is rebounding from a sore right hamstring, has gotten two or fewer runs of support in eight of his 12 starts this season. He held the Chicago White Sox to two runs and eight hits over 6 1-3 innings on Wednesday, but didn’t factor into the 5-4 victory.
The right-hander has limited opponents to two runs or fewer in all but two of his outings this season, but has just two wins to show for it. He is 0-2 with a 1.65 ERA in five home starts and has not allowed an earned run over his last two games in Miami, spanning 15 2-3 innings.
This is his first home start, however, since May 25.
Mitre is 2-1 with a 3.13 ERA in seven career games versus the Pirates, including a 9-3 victory on May 15 when he allowed three runs through 7 2-3 innings.
The Marlins expect to be without third baseman Aaron Boone, who hasn’t played since June 24 due to a left knee injury and is slated to be placed on the 15-day disabled list.