Pittsburgh Pirates Split Series Against Diamondbacks and Cardinals

Drew Karpen@@dtkarpenContributor IApril 23, 2012

Erik Bedard received little run support in the Pirates 5-1 loss yesterday to the Cardinals
Erik Bedard received little run support in the Pirates 5-1 loss yesterday to the CardinalsJared Wickerham/Getty Images

Not much has changed from Opening Week until this point for the Pittsburgh Pirates, as they find themselves three games under .500 at 6-9 and at the bottom half of the NL Central in fourth place. 

The two constants for the Pirates throughout the first two weekends of the year has been their stellar pitching performance and their lack of offense.  Pittsburgh has the fourth best team ERA in the majors at 2.63, only behind the Texas Rangers, Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals

They have had numerous outstanding pitching performances go to waste due to the fact that they could not generate any offense.  A prime example would be any of Erik Bedard’s starts.  Bedard has been a tough luck loser in all of his first four starts this season.  The Pirates have mustered up a measly three runs combined in Bedard’s starts.

Pittsburgh ended their nine-game road trip, which started last week in Los Angeles and San Francisco, in Arizona against a hot Diamondbacks team.  It looked like the Pirates were going to struggle to squeeze out a victory in the series after their loss in the opening game, 5-1. 

Pittsburgh tied their highest single game offensive output on Tuesday when they came back to defeat Arizona 5-4.  It was tied 4-4 entering the ninth inning before Neil Walker continued his rise with game-winning RBI single, giving the Pirates a 5-4 victory.

Pittsburgh and Arizona played the rubber game of the series on Wednesday afternoon.  After being down 1-0 the majority of the game, Pedro Alvarez belted his second home run of the season—also only his second hit of the season—in the seventh inning to knot the score at 1-1. 

Pedro Alvarex delivers an RBI single in the Pirates 2-0 win on Saturday night
Pedro Alvarex delivers an RBI single in the Pirates 2-0 win on Saturday nightJared Wickerham/Getty Images

With his second game-winning hit in as many days, Walker delivered with an RBI single in the eighth to give the Pirates a 2-1 win and the series win.  After an injury to Jeff Karstens earlier in the series, Brad Lincoln was called up and proved to be the difference in the rubber game, notching his first victory of the year, not along a run.

The Pirates returned to PNC Park after a week on the road to face their first divisional opponent of the year and reigning World Series Champions, St. Louis Cardinals

In game one on Friday night, Pittsburgh got off to the best start you could ask for as Alex Presley hit a lead-off inside-the-park home run off the center field wall.  The surprising stat is that the Pirates did not score another run the rest of the game, going on to a 4-1 defeat.

Kevin Correia was scratched from Saturday night’s start after feeling discomfort in his hip.  Replacing him and making his Pirate debut was A.J. Burnett, who was scheduled to make his final rehab start in Altoona that night. 

Burnett showed his excitement and nerves early on, getting himself into a bases-loaded, no-outs jam in the top of the first.  After back-to-back strikeouts, Burnett got Yadier Molina to hit a line drive to shortstop Clint Barmes, who made a leaping grab to save a disastrous inning.

With only two hits entering the season, Alvarez delivered Saturday night, recording both of Pittsburgh’s RBI’s in a 2-0 victory. 

In their second straight rubber game, the Pirates had to find a way to crack open one of the more surprising players in the early season, Kyle Lohse.  Lohse has only allowed one run in each of his four starts this season, including yesterday, propelling the Cardinals to a 5-1 win.

In every Pirates game played this season, neither Pittsburgh nor its opponent has managed to score more than five runs.

The Pirates look to turn their fortunes around starting tonight when they open a three-game series against the Colorado Rockies at PNC Park, weather permitting. 

Colorado will send iron man Jamie Moyer to the hill against Correia.  Correia has been the most consistent pitcher this year for the Pirates with a 1-0 record and 1.50 ERA, but he will be pitching at home for the first time where he struggling tremendously last year.  First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.