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National League Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, June 4 (All times Eastern)

Pittsburgh Pirates (28-30) at San Diego Padres (26-33), 6:40 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Pittsburgh - Francisco Liriano (1-5, 4.62) San Diego - Ian Kennedy (4-6, 3.42)

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Pittsburgh Pirates hope their trip back to western Pennsylvania is a relaxing one, as they shoot for a sweep of the San Diego Padres Wednesday in the finale of a 10-game road trip at Petco Park.

The Pirates have won the first two portions of this series with San Diego after a 10-3 triumph Monday and a 4-1 decision last night. Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez both hit two-run homers and Jordy Mercer went 2-for-4. Mercer is now 8-for-13 with a double, home run, three RBI and five runs scored in his last three games.

Pirates starting pitcher Gerrit Cole performed well for his sixth win of the year (6-3). He allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings, struck out six and walked two. Jason Grilli took the hill in the ninth and fanned two for his ninth save.

"When you look at the volume of work, he pitched well," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Cole, who reached 100 pitches before finishing the sixth inning. "Gave up one run, got us close to the sixth. All his pitches were in play. 12 batters saw five pitches or more, so that's probably what caught up to him more than anything."

Pittsburgh has won three in a row, five of six and 11 of the last 16 games. It is 6-3 on the current road trip and hasn't swept the Padres in three games on the road since April 29-May 1, 2003 at Qualcomm Stadium.

Wednesday's game for the Pirates will end a stretch of 16 games in 16 days.

The Pirates will start a seven-game homestand Friday versus the NL Central- rival Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs.

Taking the hill for the Pirates in Wednesday's finale in San Diego will be Francisco Liriano. Liriano has a 1-5 mark and a 4.62 earned run average in 12 starts and posted his first win of the season in Friday's 2-1 win at Los Angeles. He held the Dodgers to five hits over 5 2/3 scoreless innings with eight strikeouts and two walks.

Liriano, a left-hander, is 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in two career starts against the Padres.

San Diego is still looking for its first win in June (0-3) and hopes to avoid the sweep Wednesday. In Tuesday's 4-1 loss, Padres starting pitcher Jesse Hahn made his major league debut and lasted just 3 2/3 innings, charged with four runs and six hits, including two homers.

"Jesse showed some flashes of future potential," said Padres manager Bud Black. "Good live fastball, good curveball. He threw the ball well."

Yonder Alonso drove in the lone run for the Padres.

San Diego will also host Washington for three games on this six-game, seven- day stay at Petco Park. It is 14-17 as the host this season.

Ian Kennedy starts for the Friars Wednesday and he is 4-6 with a 3.42 ERA in 12 trips to the mound. Kennedy has won back-to-back starts, throwing six innings of one-run ball in each, including Friday's 4-1 road win over the Chicago White Sox.

Kennedy was 0-3 in four starts prior to his winning streak and is 2-2 with a 4.15 ERA in six career starts against Pittsburgh. The right-hander has made seven starts at Petco Park this season, going a disappointing 1-5.

The Padres have won 19 of the last 27 games against the Pirates.

06/04 10:45:56 ET