The Pittsburgh Pirates and Arizona Diamondbacks were heading in opposite directions before their series at Chase Field, but the Pirates managed to end their woes thanks to some early runs.
While trying to get some help from James McDonald, Pittsburgh aims to make it two in a row Tuesday night.
Before arriving in Phoenix, the Pirates (2-5) were off to their worst start since losing six straight in 2006. The offense was their root of the problems, combining for eight runs while batting .119.
After combining for eight hits and two runs during a three-game road sweep of the Dodgers over the weekend, Pittsburgh plated three in the first inning of Monday’s 5-3 victory. Travis Snider hit a two-run single in the opening frame, and Andrew McCutchen had two RBIs for the second straight game.
Garrett Jones also hit his first homer and Starling Marte had two hits for the third consecutive contest.
“Once we get going, we’ll get going,” McCutchen said. “We’re still capable of doing more, but this is a good start.”
That performance spoiled Arizona’s attempt to match its best seven-game start in team history, achieved in 2000. The Diamondbacks (5-2), who entered Monday’s series opener averaging 7.5 runs over a four-game winning streak, will try to bounce back against McDonald (0-1, 1.29 ERA).
The right-hander is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in his last two starts against the D-backs. He gave up one run and three hits in his most recent matchup last April 18 at Chase Field but lasted only four innings in a 2-1 victory.
In his season debut Thursday, McDonald allowed one run, two hits and two walks over seven innings to the Chicago Cubs but suffered a 3-2 defeat.
“He went out and he pitched a gem,” McCutchen said. “You hate for guys to go out like that, go seven strong innings and get the loss but hopefully he can continue to do that and the bats will come around.”
McDonald will pitch opposite Brandon McCarthy (0-0, 10.80), who allowed six runs and nine hits over five innings in last Wednesday’s 10-9, 16-inning win over St. Louis.
The right-hander was making his first start since taking a line drive off the side of his head on Sept. 5 while pitching for Oakland. McCarthy had to undergo surgery for life-threatening injuries that including an epidural hemorrhage, brain contusion and skull fracture.
“It’s one of the weirder starts I’ve had. I felt really good, I threw a lot of strikes, I just couldn’t throw any good strikes,” McCarthy told the team’s website. “I really thought I’d hit another gear; I felt like the ball was going to go wherever I wanted it to, but it just didn’t get there.”
In his first career start against the Pirates, McCarthy will try to get some help from Paul Goldschmidt, who has matched a career high by driving in at least one run in five consecutive games.
Goldschmidt has eight RBI over that stretch and a double in each of his last four games. He’s 7 for 18 with four doubles and four RBI in his last five games against the Pirates but has never faced McDonald.