Pirates prepare for Buehler, Dodgers

Field Level Media

Perhaps the good news for the Pittsburgh Pirates heading into a weekend series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at PNC Park is that they now won't have to face Clayton Kershaw.

Kershaw initially was scheduled to start Sunday, but he has been pushed back a day because Kenta Maeda (left adductor contusion) is expected to come off the injured list to start that game.

However, the Pirates can't exactly relax, not with the way the Dodgers' starters have been performing.

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In the series opener Friday, Los Angeles right-hander Walker Buehler (4-1, 3.83 ERA) is scheduled to start against a Pittsburgh starter to be named Friday.

Buehler, who has never faced the Pirates, is coming off his first loss, 4-0 Saturday at Cincinnati, when he gave up four runs, but just one earned, and seven hits in six innings, with seven strikeouts and no walks. The three unearned runs against him were a career high.

"I felt OK with it," Buehler said. "Didn't walk anybody. Not thrilled with the result, but I feel good with where I'm at."

Buehler has a 1.05 WHIP and is holding opposing hitters to a .230 average.

Over the past 14 games, Los Angeles starters have a 1.43 ERA while going 10-3 and allowing three earned runs or fewer in all but one of those games, including five shutouts. The staff also has walked just 21 batters since April 25, an average of less than one per nine innings, while striking out 159.

Los Angeles is 3-2 on a three-city, eight-game road trip.

The Pirates, meanwhile, went 1-2 in a home series against Colorado, including a 14-6 win on Thursday, following a 7-4 road trip.

They were outscored 14-5 over the first two games against the Rockies, but manager Clint Hurdle wasn't interested in defining Thursday's game as a bounce-back win.

"They're focusing on what's next," he said of his players. "There are no rear-view mirrors ... because we're not planning on going backward."

Hurdle declined to name a starter for Friday after Thursday's game. On Wednesday, the Pirates used rookie Montana DuRapau as an opener, but that didn't work out so well in a 9-3 loss. It was the second time in a week -- and the second time ever -- that Pittsburgh used an opener.

The Pirates have been scrambling to set a schedule of starters with Jameson Taillon and Trevor Williams on the injured list.

Pittsburgh catcher Francisco Cervelli has missed the past two games after taking a foul tip to the sternum area. He is still being evaluated, according to Hurdle, but apparently the injured list is not a consideration at this point.

There is little question about who steers the shop offensively for the Pirates. First baseman Josh Bell hit his 16th homer Thursday, leads the major leagues with 47 RBIs in 47 games and is hitting .339 with a 1.126 OPS.

"This is the best I've felt," Bell told AT&T Sportsnet, encompassing his professional career but allowing maybe he had a stretch this good in high school. "I'm in a really good place, and, hopefully, I can continue."

--Field Level Media

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