Diamondbacks going for sweep of host Pirates

Field Level Media

Pittsburgh Pirates rookie shortstop Cole Tucker will get one more crack at putting a dent in his hometown team Thursday when the Arizona Diamondbacks finish a four-game series at PNC Park.

Tucker, from suburban Phoenix, is 2-for-10 in the first three games of the series, with two doubles, a walk and three strikeouts. Even the fact that the Pirates pinch-hit for him in the ninth inning of a one-run game with a runner at second Tuesday hasn't dampened his appreciable spirit.

"I'm having the time of my life," the bubbly Tucker said. "I'm so lucky. I'm literally living my dream."

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Tucker was a first-round draft pick, 24th overall, in 2014 and would not have made his big league debut Saturday if not for a broken collarbone for regular shortstop Erik Gonzalez, who is scheduled for surgery Thursday.

In that debut, Tucker got what was the winning two-run homer for his first hit in a rain-shortened win over San Francisco -- and he did it in a Roy Hobbsian moment after stepping out of the batter's box for a bolt of lightning.

"Saturday when I had the curtain call (after the homer) I felt like I got a huge hug from the entire city," Tucker said. "They're crazy about their sports here."

Whether it's Tucker or a seasoned veteran, a batter or a pitcher, the Pirates could use a spark from someone to avoid a four-game sweep. They have been outscored 25-7 in the series.

"The three games so far, when (pitching) mistakes were made, they were barreled up," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said.

The series finale features a matchup of each team's top starter, Arizona right-hander Zack Greinke (3-1, 4.60 ERA) against Pittsburgh right-hander Jameson Taillon (1-2, 3.12 ERA).

Taillon's record has been damaged by some sloppy defense at times and a four-run outing in the season opener.

Most recently, he got something of a break -- a complete-game win Saturday with just five innings of work, thanks to a rain-shortened contest, a 3-1 win.

Taillon has faced the Diamondbacks just once, a 5-4 win last June 13 when he allowed two runs in seven innings.

That win came against Greinke.

Greinke has four quality starts in a row, with a 2.81 ERA in those games.

Saturday, Greinke pitched six shutout innings, with three hits, four strikeouts and two walks, in a 6-0 win over the Chicago Cubs.

"Greinke, he just never gives in," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "The guy's able to hit corners well. He used to throw 95-96 (mph). Just imagine that, with that kind of command, because he's always been a pretty good command guy. So (Saturday), it was more the 88-89 fastball, but he threw it where he wanted to. He's smart. He's a very smart pitcher."

Like Taillon, Greinke had a start on Opening Day that was less than ideal, allowing seven runs in 3 2/3 innings against the Dodgers.

"I think if you ask him, he's already thrown that one (against Los Angeles) out," Arizona catcher John Ryan Murphy said, according to the team's website. "If you take that one out, I think the rest have been pretty darned good."

Greinke is 8-4 with a 4.54 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 13 career starts against Pittsburgh.

--Field Level Media

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