National League Preview from The Sports Network|
Friday, July 6th
(All times Eastern)
San Francisco Giants (45-38) at Pittsburgh Pirates (46-36), 7:05 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: San Francisco - Barry Zito (6-6, 3.84)
Pittsburgh - Erik Bedard (4-9, 4.57)
(Sports Network) - The Pittsburgh Pirates go after a fifth straight win this
evening when they open a three-game set with the San Francisco Giants at PNC
The Pirates continued their recent surge on Thursday, as Jeff Karstens pitched
eight shutout innings and Pittsburgh completed a four-game sweep of the
Houston Astros with a 2-0 victory.
Karstens (2-2) allowed four hits, walked one and had a season-high eight
strikeouts. The right-hander, who was making just his sixth start of 2012 due
to being on the disabled list, retired the last eight hitters he faced.
"It was location, command, changing speeds and staying off the middle of the
plate. He was very efficient," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
Joel Hanrahan walked Jed Lowrie to start the ninth, but Scott Moore grounded
into a double play. After J.D. Martinez walked and went to third on a wild
pitch, Hanrahan retired Chris Johnson on a fly ball to right to nail down his
22nd save of the season.
Casey McGehee doubled in a run in the second inning. Karstens singled to start
the third and scored on a Garrett Jones sacrifice fly, as the NL Central
leaders posted their eighth victory in nine contests.
The Bucs are 10 games over .500 (46-36). Pittsburgh, of course, hasn't had a
winning season since 1992.
"We don't have to sneak up on anybody any more, but we have work to do,"
Hurdle added. "We've worked hard to get to this spot. We're making our way."
A big reason why the Pirates have been so good lately is All-Star outfielder
Andrew McCutchen, who is hitting .525 with four homers and 14 RBI in his last
11 home games. He had been 14-for-21 with 11 runs scored before going hitless
in three at bats on Thursday.
McCutchen leads the NL in hitting at .365 and is batting a major league-best
.444 against left-handers this season. As a team the Pirates are 10-2 at home
this year versus southpaws.
That could spell bad news for San Francisco lefty Barry Zito, who takes the
hill tonight following losses in four of his last five starts. Zito struggled
with his command on Saturday against Cincinnati, as he allowed a run and five
hits in six innings. However, he walked six batters and fell to 6-6 on the
year to go along with a 3.84 ERA.
Still, Zito has given up just one earned run in his last 13 innings.
"It was a good effort," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said afterward. "He got off
a couple innings there and battled himself. He threw six innings and gave up
one run -- that's a great job."
Zito has faced the Pirates six times and is 1-3 against them with a 3.25 ERA.
Pittsburgh, meanwhile, will rely on a lefty of their own in Erik Bedard, who
is 4-9 with a 4.57 ERA. Bedard lost his second straight start and third
consecutive decision on Sunday in St. Louis, as he surrendered five runs and
eight hits in only 4 2/3 innings.
Bedard did not get a decision in his only other start against the Giants back
He will be trying to add to the misery of a Giants team that comes into
tonight's tilt after a three-game sweep at the hands of the Washington
San Francisco, which now trails the Los Angeles Dodgers by 1 1/2 games in the
NL West, blew a ninth-inning lead on Thursday before falling, 6-5.
The Giants took two of three from the Pirates earlier in the year.
07/06 10:32:07 ET