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National League Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, July 30 (All times Eastern)

Pittsburgh Pirates (57-49) at San Francisco Giants (57-50), 3:45 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Pittsburgh - Charlie Morton (5-10, 3.40) San Francisco - Tim Lincecum (9-7, 3.96)

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Pittsburgh Pirates hope to continue their climb up the NL Central ladder and will shoot for a three-game sweep of the struggling San Francisco Giants Wednesday afternoon at AT&T Park.

The Pirates have pulled within one game of Milwaukee for the top spot in the Central standings and last swept the Giants in three games by the bay from Aug. 10-12, 2007.

Pittsburgh blanked the Giants, 5-0, in Monday's series opener and took the set with last night's 3-1 triumph behind starting pitcher Francisco Liriano's strong performance. Liriano struck out 11, walked one and allowed a run in seven innings of work.

Tony Watson pitched a scoreless eighth inning and Mark Melancon recorded his 20th save in the ninth.

Pirates All-Star Josh Harrison started the game with a home run and Travis Snider belted a two-run shot in the second inning. Harrison has homered in three straight games with four RBI and seven hits in that time.

"Our goal is to get better every day ... We played two good ballgames here," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

The Pirates have won three in a row and eight of 11 games, and are a season- high nine games above .500. They have been victorious in 17 consecutive games when scoring in the first inning, the longest such win streak for the team since winning 17 in a row from July 21-Aug. 31, 1928.

Hurdle's club will visit Arizona next for four games and is 8-3 in a stretch of 15 straight games against teams from the NL West.

Charlie Morton will head to the mound for Pittsburgh Wednesday and is a disappointing 5-10 with a 3.40 earned run average. Morton is 1-3 in last four decisions and was beaten by Colorado in Friday's 8-1 setback, charged with four runs and seven hits in six innings.

Morton, who has given up 11 runs in his last three starts, hasn't pitched well on the road as evidenced by his 2-7 mark in 12 chances. The right-hander has made 10 career starts against San Francisco and is 3-4 with a 2.51 ERA.

The Giants went through a swoon from June 9-29, losing 15 of 19 games, and hope it's not happening again with a current six-game losing streak.

The skid has the Giants three games behind Los Angeles for the NL West lead and continued with Tuesday's tough loss. Tim Hudson gave up the early homers and lasted seven innings, while Buster Posey recorded three hits and Michael Morse homered in defeat.

"We just can't string together a few hits. We have to find a way. It's tough to go through this," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

San Francisco will close out its homestand Wednesday before embarking on a 10- game road trip against the New York Mets, Milwaukee Brewers and Kansas City Royals. It has scored five runs in the first five games of this homestand.

Giants starter Tim Lincecum has lost his last two starts with his first career save in between. He gets the nod versus the Pirates and hopes to bounce back to his dominant ways from June 25-July 11, when he won four straight starts.

Lincecum was beaten by Miami on the road July 20 in a 3-2 loss and allowed all three runs in seven innings. After recording his first career save at Philadelphia on July 22 in a 9-6 victory, Lincecum was roughed up for six runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings of an 8-1 loss Friday versus Los Angeles.

The right-hander and two-time NL Cy Young Award winner is 6-3 in 13 home starts and 2-4 with a 4.86 ERA in eight career starts against Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh took two of three games at home versus San Francisco back in early May and won the 2013 series with the Giants, 4-3.

07/30 10:36:45 ET

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