Pirates-Rockies Preview

The Associated Press

Following their best offensive showing since mid-June, the Colorado Rockies might have a difficult time keeping it going against a pitcher that dominated them last weekend.

Red-hot A.J. Burnett will try to duplicate his recent performance against the Rockies on Saturday night and help the Pittsburgh Pirates avoid a third straight road loss.

While their rotation ranks among the best in the majors with a 3.35 ERA, the NL Central-leading Pirates (70-45) had been even stingier with a 2.67 ERA during their five-game winning streak.

Colorado (53-64), however, tagged Francisco Liriano for a career-worst 10 earned runs and 12 hits over 2 1-3 innings en route to a 10-1 win Friday in the opener at Coors Field.

Wilin Rosario and Nolan Arenado each had three hits as the Rockies responded to a pre-game meeting by snapping their five-game skid with their second win in 11 contests.

"It was a wake-up call,'' said Rosario, who homered and had a career-high four RBIs. "But (manager Walt Weiss) didn't let us keep our heads down. Everybody was focused and ready to go.''

After totaling six runs and batting .205 during their slide, the Rockies scored double digits for the first time since a 10-5 victory over Philadelphia on June 15.

Dexter Fowler (3 for 24), Todd Helton (1 for 12) and Troy Tulowitzki (3 for 29) had been scuffling before combining to go 4 for 9 in the opener.

They could have trouble building on that effort against Burnett (5-7, 2.73 ERA), who has a 1.89 ERA while allowing two earned runs of fewer in seven straight starts.

The right-hander helped the Pirates take two of three from Colorado last weekend. He struck out nine and scattered eight hits in Sunday's complete-game 5-1 victory.

"He was outstanding,'' catcher Russell Martin said. "He's been pitching so well and hasn't had anything to show for it personally a lot of times.''

Burnett, who hasn't pitched in Colorado since 2002, is 2-4 with a 3.15 ERA in nine road starts this season. The Pirates have given him just 22 runs of support away from home and have dropped seven of those nine contests.

Jonathan Herrera went 3 for 3 and Michael Cuddyer had two hits off Burnett last weekend. Cuddyer, though, is 5 for 28 (.179) with nine strikeouts lifetime in this matchup.

Colorado hopes to produce another big offensive performance for Juan Nicasio (6-6, 5.05), who has received three runs of support over his last three starts.

The right-hander hasn't pitched well lately, allowing 12 runs and 16 hits over 8 1-3 innings in his last two starts. He gave up four runs and six hits in 4 1-3 frames Sunday at Pittsburgh.

"I had a hard time putting the hitters away," Nicasio said.

Andrew McCutchen went 2 for 2 with an RBI against Nicasio last weekend, and is 3 for 5 with a double off him.

The All-Star returned to the lineup Friday after being limited to pinch-hitting duties due to a sore shoulder a day earlier. He's 12 for 19 (.632) with six RBIs during a seven-game hitting streak.

Teammate Starling Marte could be heating up after going 6 for 8 with three walks in his last two games.

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