Pittsburgh Pirates Struggle Against Divisional Opponents
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Up until this week, the Pittsburgh Pirates were the only team in the majors to not score more than five runs in a game. That streak ended on Monday, April 30, in Pittsburgh’s series finale against the Atlanta Braves. The offense exploded for nine runs on their way to splitting the four game series, with a 9-3 victory.
The Pirates hoped their outburst would carry over their second series in as many weeks against the St. Louis Cardinals. They did not have too much to worry about, as the offense erupted for seven runs in the series opener against the Cardinals. The only problem was the pitching never showed up this time.
Charlie Morton lasted 4.1 innings, allowing six runs on eight hits. The bullpen did not fare any better, giving up the rest of the 10 St. Louis runs.
Pittsburgh took another crack at St. Louis the next night, but with little success. After two quality starts to begin his Pirates’ career, veteran pitcher A.J. Burnett had an outing to forget.
In their 12-3 loss, Burnett was responsible for all 12 runs in 2.2 innings pitched. Burnett’s kryptonite proved to be Carlos Beltran. Beltran belted two three-run home runs, with an RBI single sandwiched in-between. All of Beltran’s seven RBI came in the first three innings.
The Cardinals' reliever-turned-starter Lance Lynn picked up the win, improving to 5-0 on the year.
After losing the first two games of the series, Pittsburgh would try to salvage the final game. Things did not look promising after falling behind 2-0 in the first inning. Pirates starter Erik Bedard seemed to find his rhythm, though, as did the offense.
The Pirates would score in each of the final four innings to hang on for a 6-3 victory. Pedro Alvarez continued to swing a hot bat, smashing his second home run of the series and seventh of the season. Bedard would register his second victory in his as many starts, improving his record to 2-4.
After the seven-game road trip, Pittsburgh returned home for a weekend series against another National League Central foe, the Cincinnati Reds.
On Friday night, the Pirates offense hit another roadblock, falling to the Reds 6-1. Kevin Correia continued his woes at home, taking the loss.
Pittsburgh got its revenge on Saturday night with a 3-2 victory. The game remained scoreless heading into the bottom of the fourth, when second baseman Neil Walker broke his homerless streak with his first of the season.
The two-run home run put the Pirates ahead for good. Another contributing factor was the performance by James McDonald.
McDonald lasted 6.1 innings, allowing only one run and striking out seven. The win improved McDonald to 2-1 on the year with a 2.70 ERA.
Pittsburgh got a little insurance off the bench when Alex Presley hit his second home run of the season. With a one run lead, closer Joel Hanrahan slammed the door, picking up his fifth save of the season.
The Pirates finished off their series against the Reds on Sunday, May 6.
The rubber game was anything but kind to the Buccos. Once again, the Pirates’ offense struggled to get anything going, on their way to a 5-0 loss. The loss was the second of the week for Morton.
After a 3-4 week, Pittsburgh finds themselves at 12-16, fifth place in the NL Central and five games back of first-place St. Louis.
Pittsburgh will enjoy their off-day on Monday before they play host to Bryce Harper and the NL East-leading Washington Nationals. Burnett will attempt to get back on track with the start on Tuesday. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
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