Padres-Pirates Preview

The Associated Press

It seemed like things would be different this time around, but the Pittsburgh Pirates still can't figure out how to beat the San Diego Padres at home.

While trying to avoid being swept at PNC Park for the first time this year, the Pirates also hope to snap an 11-game home losing streak to the Padres on Sunday.

After squandering a six-run lead in dropping Friday's opener 9-8, Pittsburgh (63-50) appeared to have a good chance of bouncing back Saturday behind A.J. Burnett, given it had won all 10 of his starts at PNC Park. Burnett was outdueled by Jason Marquis, however, as the Padres veteran tossed a two-hitter in handing the Pirates a 5-0 loss.

It marked the sixth straight win for San Diego (51-64) and third loss in a row for Pittsburgh, which dropped 4 1/2 games back of NL Central-leading Cincinnati. San Diego hasn't won seven consecutive games since an eight-game run from April 16-24, 2010, while the Pirates haven't lost four straight since June 12-15.

Pittsburgh, which is in control of the NL's second wild-card spot, is enjoying a resurgence thanks to the majors' second-best home record at 35-20. It has been unable to carry over that home dominance against San Diego, though.

The Pirates have been outscored 86-33 in losing 11 straight at PNC Park to the Padres since Sept. 18, 2009, their longest active home losing streak to any opponent as well as San Diego's longest active road winning streak over any foe.

Chase Headley, who has his three home runs in the first two games, has keyed the winning streak in Pittsburgh, batting .359 with five homers, five doubles and 17 RBIs.

To prevent San Diego's run from extending into 2013, the Pirates turn to Erik Bedard (6-12, 4.53 ERA), who has posted a 1.63 ERA while striking out 31 over 27 2-3 innings in winning his four career starts against the Padres.

Bedard is tied for the major league lead in losses, but at PNC Park, he owns a 2.38 ERA and is limiting opponents to a .192 average - the fifth-lowest home average in the majors. At home against Arizona on Monday, the left-hander permitted two hits and didn't walk a batter over seven innings in a 4-0 win.

"That's just what you try to do - make some good pitches, get some outs and get the hitters back out there,'' Bedard said.

The Padres go with former Pirate Ross Ohlendorf (4-2, 5.61), who went 13-27 with Pittsburgh from 2008-11.

Ohlendorf signed with San Diego in June and has thoroughly enjoyed pitching at spacious Petco Park, going 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA in three starts. Facing the Chicago Cubs there Tuesday, he allowed two runs and three hits in six innings in a 7-4 win.

The right-hander has been nowhere near as sharp on the road, though, compiling an 0-2 record with a 9.56 ERA in four starts.

Taking the hill at PNC Park could be what he needs to solve his road woes, though, considering he had a 3.93 ERA in 35 games there.

"I've always enjoyed pitching here," he told the Pirates' official website. "It will be weird doing it as a visitor, but I'm looking forward to it."

Ohlendorf will try to add to the frustration of Andrew McCutchen, who is mired in an 0-for-9 slump, dropping his major league-leading average to .363.