Scoring five runs at home qualifies as an eruption for the Pittsburgh Pirates' offense, but they typically don't follow such relatively strong performances with similar success.
They don't usually fare too well against Wandy Rodriguez, either.
The Pirates try to finish their nine-game homestand with a winning record Sunday afternoon against Rodriguez and the Houston Astros.
Pittsburgh (15-18) scores a major league-worst 2.8 runs per game, but that average dips to 2.5 at home - where they're still 9-8 thanks to a pitching staff that's compiled a 2.34 ERA.
The Pirates hit .178 and totaled 15 runs while dropping four of seven to open their homestand, but finally got some key hits Saturday. Jose Tabata tripled to lead off the first and scored one batter later to give Pittsburgh a lead it wouldn't relinquish, while Andrew McCutchen went 4 for 4 with his third homer in five games in a 5-2 victory.
"Andrew has another big night - that's two four-hit games this week,'' Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "It's always good when you see him hit the ball to right-center ... and he hit it there twice tonight.''
While five runs are hardly a typical cause for celebration, that's a mark the Pirates have only hit five times at PNC Park - and one they've yet to exceed. They totaled seven runs in the games following their first four five-run contests at home.
Pittsburgh has scored one or no runs seven times at PNC, but two is generally all it's needed. The Pirates are 9-1 when scoring that many or more at home.
Not much has come easy for Pittsburgh against Rodriguez (3-3, 2.14 ERA), who's 5-1 with a 2.94 ERA in his last seven starts in this series while striking out 11.4 per nine innings. He was just 1-1 with a 5.79 ERA in three outings the past three months last season, though he fanned 30 in 18 2-3.
The two Pittsburgh hitters who went deep in Saturday's win have particularly struggled against Rodriguez. McCutchen is 3 for 18 with six strikeouts against the left-hander, and Tabata is hitless in 10 at-bats.
McCutchen, however, is 14 for 31 (.452) against lefties this season.
After winning three straight while posting a 1.35 ERA as the Astros (15-18) provided 10.8 runs of support per contest, Rodriguez was hurt by the long ball Monday. He didn't allow a homer in his first 38 1-3 innings in 2012, but Rodriguez gave up four runs on three homers in a 4-0 loss to Miami.
"Anytime guys start hitting Wandy, you are surprised,'' manager Brad Mills said. "Whether they are home runs or whatever, he's been throwing the ball so well, and to give up three in one game, that's surprising.''
Most of Rodriguez's success against the Pirates has come at home, while he's 3-5 with a 4.96 ERA in nine starts at PNC.
A.J. Burnett (1-2, 6.08) is 1-0 with a 1.20 ERA in two starts in his new home, though he certainly pitched well enough to get a second win Tuesday. One start removed from giving up 12 runs, the right-hander held Washington to two and struck out 10 in eight innings of the Pirates' 5-4 walk-off victory.
"I was just sharper tonight," Burnett told the Pirates' official website. "I was able to find the hook that I had in the past, and it paid off."
Burnett is 2-5 with a 5.31 ERA in seven starts against Houston, none of which have come since 2005.
- Wandy Rodriguez
- Pittsburgh Pirates