Marlins-Pirates Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated July 20, 2012
The Pittsburgh Pirates were pleased with how they closed out their road trip. A six-game homestand provides the opportunity to continue the momentum. The Pirates begin a three-game set against the Miami Marlins on Friday night. After losing two of three at Milwaukee coming out of the All-Star break, Pittsburgh (51-40) rebounded to win the final two games of its series at Colorado, earning a split of the six-game road trip with a 9-6 victory Wednesday. The Pirates rallied from an early four-run deficit by matching a season high with four home runs - by Garrett Jones, Casey McGehee, Pedro Alvarez and Rod Barajas. They won despite getting no production from Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker, who each went 0 for 4. Walker came in riding a 17-game hitting streak while McCutchen, hitting a major-league leading .369, was batting .552 over his previous 14 games. "Yeah, how about that? The two guys who've been front and center are quiet, but everyone else steps up," manager Clint Hurdle told the Pirates' official website. "Just another example of what we're capable of doing as a team." Pittsburgh is one-half game behind St. Louis for first place in the NL Central. The Pirates will try to reclaim the division lead at home, where they have won 18 of their last 22. Miami arrives in the Steel City after dropping the final two contests of a three-game series in Chicago. The Marlins went 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position during Thursday's 4-2 defeat. Miami, which ranks 29th in batting average with runners in scoring position at .227, is hitting .162 in RBI situations over the last 10 games. The underperforming Marlins (44-48), who entered the season with high hopes amid the opening of a new stadium, several high-priced acquisitions and the signing of Ozzie Guillen as manager, now could be sellers as the trade deadline approaches. "If we're not playing well, this is a business," Guillen said. "If they believe we're not a good enough ballclub to compete this season, they have to do what they have to do." Probable starter Ricky Nolasco (8-7, 4.47 ERA) will try to get the Marlins - and himself - back on track after he gave up four runs in 5 1-3 innings of a 4-0 loss to Washington on Sunday. The right-hander has won four straight starts against the Pirates. Three of those were scoreless outings. Pittsburgh will counter with Kevin Correia (6-6, 4.25), who is looking to match a career best by winning his fourth straight start. The right-hander has a 5.29 ERA over his last three outings, but has been helped by generous support. Correia gave up four runs - two earned - in six innings of a 6-4 victory over Milwaukee on Saturday. Correia is 2-4 with a 7.24 ERA in 14 appearances - seven starts - versus the Marlins. He gave up six runs and eight hits in 3 2-3 innings of a 6-2 loss May 15 in Miami, part of a two-game series that the teams split. The Marlins have won six straight in Pittsburgh.
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