Not much has changed from last week to this week in the Pittsburgh Pirates' season. After going 3-3 over their last six games, Pittsburgh remains in fourth place in the National League Central, only a half-game behind the Milwaukee Brewers for third.
The week got off to a rainy start, when their opening game in a three-game series against the Colorado Rockies was postponed and scheduled as part of a doubleheader on Wednesday afternoon.
Kevin Correia returned to the starting rotation on Tuesday after missing his scheduled start on Saturday because of discomfort in his hip. Correia was opposed by 49-year-old journeyman Jamie Moyer.
Correia got off to a rocky start, allowing a two-run home run to Carlos Gonzalez in the first inning, but those would be the last two runs Correia would allow. Down 2-1 entering the bottom of the seventh, Alex Presley got things started with a leadoff double. Followed by a Jose Tabata single, Andrew McCutchen gave the Pirates their first lead of the game, ripping a two-RBI double off the center field wall.
The very next inning, reliever Tony Watson gave the lead right back to the Rockies, when Gonzalez belted his second two-run home run of the game. The see-saw battle ended in the bottom of the inning, when Clint Barmes tied the game at 4-4 with his second home run of the season. Casey McGehee put the Pirates ahead for good with his two-out RBI single for a 5-4 win.
Pittsburgh and Colorado split the doubleheader on Wednesday, giving the Pirates a series victory over the Rockies. Offense was at a premium throughout the whole day. Pirates pitcher James McDonald took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, but was not able to receive any run support in a 2-1 loss.
The Pirates struck back in the second game, erupting for all five runs in the fifth inning. The inning was showcased by back-to-back home runs by Garrett Jones and Pedro Alvarez. Alvarez’s home run was his second of the day.
After a day off on Thursday, the Pirates landed in Atlanta for a four-game series. The Pirates' last trip to Atlanta was one to remember, but not for the right reasons. No one could forget the 19-inning marathon that ended in the infamous safe call at home plate by umpire Jerry Meals.
In Friday night’s series opener, A.J. Burnett made his second start as a Bucco. Although Burnett put up another solid performance going six innings, allowing two runs on six hits, while striking out eight and walking three, it was not good enough to pick up the win. The Pirates' lone run came in the fourth on an RBI single by Jones.
The wheels fell off the wagon in the bottom of the seventh, when the Pirates bullpen combined to let up four runs. The 6-1 final marks the first time the Pirates pitching staff has combined to allow more than five runs in a game, a mark they set earlier in the week for consecutive games not allowing more than five runs and not scoring more than five runs in a game.
Pittsburgh bounced back the next night, giving pitcher Erik Bedard his first win as a Pirate. The offense gave Bedard his biggest run support of the season, scoring three runs in the first two innings. The bullpen bounced back from their awful display the night before, securing the 4-2 win. Closer Joel Hanrahan registered his fourth save of the season.
After another hot start on Sunday, getting out to a 2-0 lead, errors and walks did the Pirates in, falling 4-3 to the Atlanta Braves.
The Pirates offense has slightly improved over the past week, sitting at 28th in the league in batting, only better than the San Diego Padres and Oakland Athletics. Pittsburgh’s pitching has stayed the course this past week, ranking third in the league with a 2.77 ERA, only trailing the St. Louis Cardinals (2.61) and Washington Nationals (2.33).
Pittsburgh will conclude their four-game series against the Braves tonight and attempt to salvage a series split. James McDonald will look for his first win of the season (0-1, 2.78 ERA), as he faces off against Braves starter Mike Minor (2-1, 3.42 ERA).
First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.