St. Louis (77-74) at Pittsburgh (53-98)

Fair Currently: Pittsburgh, PA
Temp: 54° F
  • Game info: 12:35 pm EDT Thu Sep 23, 2010
  • TV: FSMW, FSPI
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Pittsburgh Pirates appear headed for another 100-loss season, but a .500 record at home could provide some solace. Sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals and achieving their longest winning streak in over two years would also be a boost.

The Pirates look for a sixth win in a row when they conclude their three-game series with the spiraling Cardinals on Wednesday afternoon.

Pittsburgh (53-98) needs to win 10 of its remaining 11 games to avoid its first 100-loss season since 2001. However, the club is 38-39 at home with this contest and a three-game set with Houston still to play at PNC Park.

The 2006 Tampa Bay Devil Rays are the only team in history to post a winning home record while losing 100 games.

The Pirates’ surge continued Wednesday, as they beat St. Louis 11-6 to improve to 5-0 on their nine-game homestand. With another win Thursday, they can achieve their first six-game streak since May 6-12, 2008, and their first sweep of the Cardinals (77-74) since September of that season.

“We want to finish the season strong and, next year, we’ve got to start the season like that,” shortstop Ronny Cedeno(notes) said. “When we play like that, you see your pitchers getting better.”

The Pirates rotation has a 3.06 ERA during the winning streak, but still ranks last in the majors on the season with a 5.34 mark.

Brian Burres(notes) (3-3, 4.93 ERA) will try to continue the strong recent pitching as he faces St. Louis for the first time.

The left-hander has filled in nicely for the injured Jeff Karstens(notes), going 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA while walking one in 20 innings over three starts - all resulting in Pittsburgh wins.

Burres didn’t get a decision in Friday’s 4-3 win over Arizona to open this homestand, but limited the Diamondbacks to two earned runs in seven innings. He’s 2-0 with a 2.32 ERA in seven games - four starts - at PNC Park.

“It’s really a lot of just focusing on one pitch at a time when you’re out there,” Burres told the Pirates’ official website. “Don’t try to get ahead of yourself. Usually when you do that, the pitch goes where you want it to.”

The Cardinals have dropped 25 of 37 since Aug. 14 - the last time they led the NL Central. They now trail Cincinnati by eight games and their magic number for elimination is three.

St. Louis starter Jeff Suppan(notes) (1-7, 5.61) will try to continue his success against the Pirates, one of his former clubs.

The right-hander is 15-3 with a 4.20 ERA in 26 games - 25 starts - against Pittsburgh, for which he went 10-7 with a 3.57 ERA in 21 starts during the 2003 season.

Suppan won his eighth consecutive decision versus the Pirates on July 31, striking out five in 5 1-3 scoreless innings of an 11-1 victory - his only win in 12 starts this season.

He pitched effectively but didn’t get a decision in an 8-4 loss to San Diego on Saturday, yielding one run in five innings.

“I congratulated him. He was outstanding,” manager Tony La Russa told the Cardinals’ official website. “He’s shown that grit ever since he’s been in that uniform. He’s not intimidated by any situation you throw him in.”

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Starting Pitchers

J. Suppan SD vs. B. Burres SF
3-8 Record 4-5
5.06 ERA 4.99
51 K 45
37 BB 34
1.65 WHIP 1.53

Scoreboard

Thursday, Sep 23