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Tue, Aug 7, 2012 - 7:05 PM ET
 

Diamondbacks-Pirates Preview

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Pittsburgh's Jeff Karstens hopes this start against the Arizona Diamondbacks goes better than his first.

Based on how he's been pitching lately, his dominance at home and his previous success in the series, he would seemingly have better luck in the rematch.

Karstens tries to win his fifth straight decision and help the Pirates move 17 games over .500 for the first time in 20 years Tuesday night against the Diamondbacks.

Pittsburgh (62-46) opened a season-high 11-game homestand with a 4-0 win over Arizona on Monday and improved to a major league-best 34-16 at home. The Pirates collected nine singles to go with Clint Barmes' fifth-inning double, while Erik Bedard and two relievers combined on a two-hitter.

The owners of the league's second wild-card spot pulled within 3 1/2 games of NL Central-leading Cincinnati, and are trying to move 17 games over the break-even mark for the first time since ending the 1992 campaign 96-66 - the season of their last winning record and playoff appearance.

The Diamondbacks (55-54) have lost six of seven in Pittsburgh and 14 of their last 22 road games overall. They were shut out for the second time in three days Monday as Paul Goldschmidt had their only hits. Arizona's slumping offense could again have trouble against Karstens (4-2, 3.70 ERA) after he allowed a run and three hits in five innings in Wednesday's 8-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

The right-hander was making his seventh start since a two-month stint on the disabled list, and improved to 4-0 with a 2.54 ERA in the last six. He landed on the DL after leaving his start in Arizona on April 17 following a two-run first inning with shoulder inflammation.

If he can stay healthy, things would figure to go better this time, considering he is 2-0 with a 0.43 ERA in three home starts this season. He also had a 0.41 ERA in his first three starts versus the Diamondbacks prior to April's injury-shortened outing.

Despite his success in the series, some of Arizona's top hitters have given him problems. Miguel Montero is 5 for 10 lifetime against him, while Justin Upton is 4 for 8 with a homer. Upton was batting .400 during a five-game hitting streak before going hitless in three at-bats Monday.

Andrew McCutchen had two hits and scored twice in the opener, and is batting .481 with 21 RBIs in his last 21 home games. He also leads the majors with a .443 average against left-handers and will be facing one Tuesday in Patrick Corbin (3-4, 3.60), who began his third stint with the Diamondbacks on Wednesday at Dodger Stadium.

Called up from Triple-A Reno last week, the 23-year-old allowed two hits and two walks in six innings of a 4-0 win. It was his sixth major league start and first since May 21.

"I feel a lot more comfortable now and I feel like I should be up here,'' said Corbin, who also made five relief appearances from June 28-July 13. "That's the biggest difference - feeling comfortable and going out there knowing you can pitch against these guys.''

This will be his first opportunity to pitch against a Pirates team that since June 1, leads the NL in runs with 298 and homers with 84.

Tagged: Pirates, Diamondbacks, Jeff Karstens

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