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Mon, Jun 20, 2011 - 7:05 PM ET
 

Orioles-Pirates Preview

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While it wasn't too surprising given their record against the American League, an interleague series over the weekend did little to end the Pittsburgh Pirates' offensive woes.

After falling back below .500, the Pirates will try to bounce back Monday when they open a three-game home series against the Baltimore Orioles.

Pittsburgh (35-36) has suffered through 18 consecutive losing seasons, but it is trying hard to avoid extending that dubious mark. However, the team took a step backwards after being swept by Cleveland over the weekend.

The Pirates scored one run in each of the first two games and didn't fare much better Sunday, losing 5-2 in 11 inning after Tim Wood surrendered a three-run homer to Cord Phelps.

"I didn't go to college, but I can kind of count to 35 and 36 and up to 40, so I have an idea of where we are,'' manager Clint Hurdle said. ''I'm not hawking the board. I'm not picking up the stat sheet every day to find out where we are. We need to focus on the game we're playing. That's one thing we've talked about long and hard. We have a 162-game season.''

Pittsburgh is averaging 2.2 runs the last 11 games and batting .167 with runners in scoring position after going 1 for 10 on Sunday.

The Pirates' series loss to the Indians isn't particularly shocking given they own the worst interleague record in the majors with a .371 winning percentage.

Baltimore has the third-worst at .439.

The Orioles (32-37), though, are looking to build on a 7-4 win over Washington on Sunday, just their second victory in eight games. After dropping the first two despite totaling 26 hits, Baltimore received home runs from J.J. Hardy and Mark Reynolds on Sunday while Derrek Lee added two hits, including an RBI-double in the fifth.

Interleague play seemed to rejuvenate Lee, who went 9 for 13 with three doubles in the series after batting .129 in eight games since coming off the disabled list.

"It was a big win for us," said Lee, who is hitting .329 in his last 22 games against the Pirates. "Now we have a chance to go to Pittsburgh and kind of turn it around. We've lost two series on this trip, and now if we go up there and get this series, it makes it not such a bad trip."

Lee is 3 for 6 against Charlie Morton (7-3, 3.21 ERA), who is scheduled to take the mound for Pittsburgh.

Morton labored to a win at Houston on Wednesday, giving up three runs and nine hits in five innings of a 7-3 victory.

The right-hander, who went 2-12 with a 7.57 ERA last year, is making his first start against the Orioles and first interleague appearance since 2009.

The Orioles will counter with Jake Arrieta (8-4, 4.45), who is looking for his fourth straight quality start. He didn't get much help against Toronto on Wednesday, giving up three runs and nine hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 4-1 loss.

The right-hander had entered that start receiving an average of 7.1 runs of support, one of the highest marks in the majors.

Arrieta, who has never faced the Pirates, has struggled in interleague play, going 1-2 with an 8.50 ERA in four outings. He issued six runs in 3 2-3 innings of a 17-5 loss to Washington on May 20.

This is the first meeting between the teams since 2008, and the first in Pittsburgh since 2005. Each team took two of three on its own field in those series.

Tagged: Orioles, Indians, Pirates, Derrek Lee, Mark Reynolds, Tim Wood

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