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Mon, Aug 6, 2012 - 7:05 PM ET
 

Diamondbacks-Pirates Preview

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After concluding a successful road trip by salvaging a victory against the NL Central leaders, the Pittsburgh Pirates should be excited to return home.

The Arizona Diamondbacks, meanwhile, are hoping to get back on track after hitting a rut on a trek that started quite well.

Beginning a season-high 11-game homestand, the Pirates look to hand the Diamondbacks a third straight defeat Monday night.

Though Pittsburgh (61-46) went 6-4 on its latest trip, it returns home 4 1/2 games behind Central-leading Cincinnati after dropping two of three to the Reds over the weekend.

The Pirates earned some solace with a 6-2 win Sunday. Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker each homered while A.J. Burnett came within an out of his second straight complete game for the Pirates, who own the NL's second wild-card spot.

The Pirates now return home, where they are a major league-best 33-16 despite losing two of three to Chicago from July 23-25.

Monday marks the PNC Park debut of rookie outfielder Starling Marte, who homered on the first major league pitch he saw at Houston on July 26. Though Marte is batting .238 (10 for 42), he had two hits and two RBIs on Sunday.

Walker hit three homers and drove in 11 runs during the trip.

McCutchen, meanwhile, has batted .471 (8 for 17) with three home runs in his last five home games versus Arizona. He's hit .479 (35 for 73) with six homers and 21 RBIs in his last 20 at PNC overall.

Tied for the most losses in the majors, Pittsburgh's Erik Bedard (5-12, 4.83 ERA) takes the mound after he allowed nine runs in 4 1-3 innings of a 14-4 loss at Chicago on Monday.

"They hit good pitches, bad pitches and the unfortunate thing is they went over the fence,'' Bedard said. "I felt really good. I guess that's the positive out of it.''

The left-hander allowed two runs, three hits and walked four over five innings of a 5-1 loss at Arizona on April 16.

Bedard, however, has been much better at home. He has a 2.43 ERA in his last five starts at PNC, while he's compiled a 9.00 ERA in his last five on the road.

Arizona (55-53) won the first four on its current 10-game trip before dropping the last two in Philadelphia. The Diamondbacks blew an early three-run lead Sunday and lost 5-4 on Ryan Howard's tiebreaking single in the ninth.

"It's frustrating but you just get over it and come back (Monday)," manager Kirk Gibson said.

The Diamondbacks have a good chance to turn things around Monday when they hand the ball to All-Star Wade Miley (12-6, 2.98), who allowed a solo homer and two other hits in eight innings of an 8-2 win at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday.

Miley, who yielded one walk in that contest, has not issued more than two free passes in any of his last 19 starts.

"I just have the confidence throwing strikes,'' the left-hander said. "Me and (catcher Miguel Montero) have a great relationship. He trusts me, I trust him and everything's been working."

In his only previous appearance against the Pirates, Miley gave up two runs in five innings of an 8-5 home win Sept. 21.

Third baseman Chris Johnson, who hit a two-run homer Sunday, is 8 for 21 (.381) with three homers and 10 RBIs in six games since the Diamondbacks acquired him from Houston on July 29.

He went 5 for 11 with two homers in three games against the Pirates just before being traded, but has never faced Bedard.

Tagged: Pirates, Diamondbacks, Erik Bedard

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