National League Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, July 1st (All times Eastern)
Pittsburgh Pirates (42-35) at St. Louis Cardinals (40-38), 2:15 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Pittsburgh - Erik Bedard (4-8, 4.27) St. Louis - Jake Westbrook (6-6, 3.77)
(Sports Network) - Home runs were synonymous with the Pittsburgh Pirates last month and the ballclub aims to keep it that way in July.
The Pirates will try to go deep on the St. Louis Cardinals again Sunday afternoon with the possibility of a three-game sweep. Pittsburgh has homered in eight straight games and belted 39 homers in June, matching the previous mark set back in 1975. The 39 homers also led the National League.
Pedro Alvarez hit a grand slam in the first inning of Saturday's 7-3 win over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium, and he owns six homers and 14 RBI in his past four day games on the road. Andrew McCutchen finished with two hits and a run scored before leaving the game in the third inning with a wrist injury suffered on a diving catch.
X-rays revealed the center fielder sustained a sprained left wrist and he is not expected to play Sunday. McCutchen leads the Pirates in batting average (.346), home runs (15) and RBI (51).
"It got tight, just not normal," McCutchen said. "So I wanted to make sure it was all right after that."
Pirates starting pitcher Jeff Karstens limited the Cardinals to a pair of runs in seven innings in the middle portion of this series, while striking out seven batters and walking two. Jared Hughes tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings for his first save.
Pittsburgh, which posted a 14-7 win on Friday, sits one game behind Cincinnati for the NL Central lead and is 4-2 on a seven-game road trip. Winners in 10 of 14 games overall, the Pirates will return to PNC Park for a seven-game homestand versus Houston and San Francisco.
The Buccos also have won 11 of their last 14 games against NL Central foes, and were a season-high seven games over .500 (51-44) last July 19.
Erik Bedard draws the start for Pittsburgh this afternoon and he is 0-2 in his previous three appearances. He lost at Philadelphia on Tuesday in a 5-4 decision, as he gave up four runs and eight hits in six innings. Bedard fell to 4-8 in 15 starts and his ERA went from 4.12 to 4.27.
The left-hander, who is just 2-6 in eight road outings this season, defeated St. Louis on May 3 with five innings of two-run ball in a 6-3 road win. Bedard is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in two career starts against the Cardinals. He is two strikeouts shy of 1,000 in his career and has dropped his last four road starts, last winning as the guest at Busch Stadium.
St. Louis has now dropped three in a row since a five-game winning streak and didn't get much help from starter Lance Lynn on Saturday. Lynn was hammered for six runs and seven hits in five innings to fall to 10-4 on the season.
"I didn't get it done in the first inning and it cost us the whole game," Lynn said after the game.
Matt Holliday had two hits and an RBI, Jon Jay drove in a run and scored twice, and Carlos Beltran registered an RBI for an eighth straight game (13 total) for the Cardinals, who are now 3 1/2 games in back of the Reds in the NL Central. Beltran is one homer shy of 200 in the National League and recorded the 400th two-base hit of his career. He reached 2,000 career hits on Friday.
Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina and shortstop Rafael Furcal were both out of the starting lineup Saturday due to extreme temperatures and should return Sunday. Tony Cruz was behind the plate and went 1-for-4 with a run scored, while shortstop Daniel Descalso was hitless in four at-bats and struck out three times.
The Cardinals are winless (0-2) so far on a 10-game homestand and will send Jake Westbrook to the mound this afternoon. Westbrook is 2-0 in his past three trips to the hill and did not factor in the outcome of an 8-7 win at Miami on Monday, as he lasted six innings and surrendered two runs and six hits.
Westbrook, a right-hander, is 6-6 in 15 starts to go along with a 3.77 earned run average and 3-2 in seven outings in the Gateway City. He has lost to the Pirates twice already this season and is 0-5 against them in his career, spanning 10 games (6 starts).
The 2012 series between Pittsburgh and St. Louis is tied at 4-4.
07/01 10:28:43 ET