Pirates-Phillies Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 22, 2013
After slowing down one of the hottest teams in the majors, the Pittsburgh Pirates are on the verge of their longest win streak of the season. A.J. Burnett will try to deliver that fourth straight victory while building on a superb outing Monday night against the Philadelphia Phillies. Pittsburgh has won nine of 12 since its 1-5 start and took three of four over Atlanta to wrap up this past week. The Braves entered that series with baseball's best record (12-2) and won 6-4 in Thursday's series opener at PNC Park. The Pirates (10-8) then outscored Atlanta 13-3 over the final three games and Clint Barmes broke out of an 0-for-14 slump in a 4-2 win Sunday with a pair of RBI singles, including the tiebreaking one in the sixth inning. "We're capable of playing very good baseball, and we just did that on this (nine-game) homestand," manager Clint Hurdle told the team's website. Hurdle's team will try to keep rolling on a 10-game road trip and Burnett (1-2, 2.63 ERA) will attempt to help with another stellar effort. The veteran right-hander gave up his lone hit to St. Louis in the seventh inning Wednesday in a 5-0 victory. Burnett also walked none and fanned eight, and ranks first in the NL with 35 strikeouts. "I'll take that every time out," Hurdle said. "That's the rhythm when he's the beast that he can be, that's the rhythm you see. ... You couldn't ask for any more than we got out of him." Burnett won his only start against Philadelphia (8-11) in 2012 after going 2-6 with an 8.92 ERA in his previous eight matchups, including two in the 2009 World Series while with the New York Yankees. He gave up three runs in 6 2-3 innings and struck out seven in a 5-4 victory at Citizens Bank Park on June 28. In this matchup, Burnett is slated to pitch opposite Jonathan Pettibone, who is making his major league debut. The right-hander is taking the place of the injured John Lannan in the rotation. The 22-year-old Pettibone, one of the Phillies' top prospects and son of former major leaguer Jay Pettibone, went 13-8 with a 3.10 ERA in 26 starts at two different levels in 2012. He was 0-1 with a 9.64 ERA in two starts at Triple-A Lehigh Valley this season. "Hopefully he's got enough weapons and guile to pitch well for us," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told the team's website. "He's got a pretty good arsenal. We'll see how he competes." Philadelphia had dropped six of eight after a season-high three consecutive victories April 9-12 before winning 7-3 in Sunday's series finale with St. Louis. Ben Revere singled in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning and Erik Kratz followed with a three-run homer. "We're not quite there yet. Hopefully, tonight got it started," manager Charlie Manuel said. Michael Young also extended his hit streak to 12 games. Young is 9 for 36 (.250) with six strikeouts against Burnett but is hitting .391 (18 for 46) in 12 all-time games versus the Pirates. Pittsburgh's Travis Snider has also been locked in at the plate, batting .429 (12 for 28) with six doubles during an eight-game hitting streak. The Pirates haven't won four straight since July 25-28.
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