Pittsburgh (38-46) at Houston (40-43)

Cloudy Currently: Houston, TX
Temp: 78° F
  • Game info: 2:05 pm EDT Wed Jul 8, 2009
  • TV: FSPI, FSSW
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Pittsburgh Pirates have scored nearly as many runs as they’ve allowed, but poor play on the road and within their own division has them in last place in the NL Central.

One of baseball’s worst teams away from home has a rare opportunity to capture a road series on Wednesday, but Pittsburgh has lost nine of its last 10 series against division foes heading into its finale with the Houston Astros.

The Pirates (38-46) have played well outside the Central, compiling a 26-22 record. Their 12-24 record within the division, though, is a key reason they’re three games behind fifth-place Houston (40-42) despite having allowed one more run than they’ve scored.

The Pirates had been outscored by 40 runs on the road heading into Tuesday’s game, and have gone 3-10-1 in series away from home this year. After totaling just one run in its previous two games, Pittsburgh got a two-run shot from shortstop Jack Wilson(notes) in a 6-3 win.

“You notice right away in (batting practice) that it doesn’t take a whole lot to get it out of here,” said Wilson, who has hit 10 of his 60 career homers in Houston.

The Pirates are 37-19 when they score at least three runs.

Pittsburgh struck for five runs and nine hits over 4 2-3 innings when it faced Wandy Rodriguez(notes) (7-6, 3.21 ERA) on May 30 at PNC Park in a 7-4 victory.

The left-hander is 3-4 with a 5.37 ERA in 10 career starts against the Pirates with first baseman Adam LaRoche(notes) batting .364 (8 for 22) with a homer off him.

All-Star second baseman Freddy Sanchez(notes), who likely will miss his sixth straight game due to back spasms, is hitting .435 (10 for 23) with a homer and three RBI against Rodriguez, who’s 3-2 with a 2.60 ERA at home.

Rodriguez dominated on the road, however, in his last start by limiting San Diego to a run and seven hits over seven innings with five strikeouts in a 7-2 win on Thursday.

“I thought Wandy pitched a fine game,” manager Cecil Cooper told the Astros’ official Web site. “Maybe not as sharp or as crisp as he’s been in the past, but he kept the game close and made pitches when he had to make pitches.”

The Pirates’ Charlie Morton(notes) (1-1, 2.65) will be looking to build on his first win with Pittsburgh.

Acquired last month in the deal that sent Nate McLouth(notes) to Atlanta, Morton issued four walks, but limited Florida to just one hit over six shutout innings in a 7-4 victory on Friday.

“The way he threw the ball when he got into some jams - he broke bats, he got strikeouts when he needed them - that’s the sign of a guy with quality stuff,” manager John Russell said of the right-hander. “He was very impressive.”

This won’t be the first time Morton has opposed Rodriguez. Morton gave up six runs and eight hits over six innings against Houston while with the Braves on July 6, 2008, a game Atlanta won 7-6 in 17 innings.

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Starting Pitchers

C. Morton Pit vs. W. Rodríguez Tex
5-9 Record 14-12
4.55 ERA 3.02
62 K 193
40 BB 63
1.46 WHIP 1.24

Scoreboard

Wednesday, Jul 8