MLB

Wed, Jul 27, 2011 - 7:10 PM ET
 

Pirates-Braves Preview

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It won't be easy for the Pittsburgh Pirates to bounce back after a difficult loss, especially since they will be facing one of the NL's best pitchers.

The Atlanta Braves, meanwhile, will be without their top run producer for an extended stretch.

The Pirates continue this four-game road set Wednesday night against the Braves, who will send Jair Jurrjens to the mound in search of his league-leading 13th victory while coping with the loss of Brian McCann.

Pittsburgh (53-48) lost 4-3 in 19 innings Tuesday as the longest game in Turner Field history ended at 1:50 a.m. Atlanta (60-44) won when Julio Lugo scored from third base on a contested play at the plate.

With runners on second and third and one out in the 19th, Scott Proctor hit a grounder to third baseman Pedro Alvarez, whose throw to catcher Michael McKenry easily beat Lugo to the plate.

Lugo tried to avoid McKenry's tag with a pop-up slide. Replays indicated McKenry made the tag, but home plate umpire Jerry Meals called Lugo safe.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle argued the call vigorously, following Meals off the field as the Braves celebrated, and Major League Baseball announced Wednesday the umpire made the wrong call.

"The game tonight deserved way better than that," Hurdle said.

It matched the longest game in the majors this year, a 19-inning contest between the Phillies and Reds on May 25.

Although the Braves won the game, they suffered a major blow when McCann strained his left oblique in the 10th. The catcher, tied for the team lead with 18 homers to go with a team-best 55 RBIs, was placed on the 15-day disabled list before Wednesday's game.

"That's a big bat in the lineup," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

David Ross replaced McCann on Tuesday.

Ross could be behind the plate as Jurrjens (12-3, 2.44 ERA) looks to recover from two straight shaky outings. Jurrjens failed to record a decision in each of them while allowing 10 runs over 11 innings.

He's still tied for the NL lead in wins, although fellow 12-game winner Cole Hamels also pitches Wednesday.

The right-hander was 4-0 with a 1.03 ERA in his four starts prior to the last two. Jurrjens had given up five homers all season before allowing three during the Braves' 6-4 win Friday at Cincinnati.

Jurrjens is 2-3 with a 2.35 ERA in five starts against the Pirates, including a 2-0 road win May 24 in which he lasted 7 2-3 innings.

His counterpart, Paul Maholm (6-10, 3.26), has a good history against the Braves. In five starts versus Atlanta, Maholm is 1-1 with a 1.64 ERA - his lowest against any opponent.

The left-hander, however, is 1-5 with a 4.45 ERA in nine road outings, and he suffered Friday's 6-4 home loss to St. Louis by allowing five runs over six innings.

Pittsburgh will be hoping for some offense after failing to score over Tuesday's final 17 innings. The Pirates were 2 for 15 with runners in scoring position while the Braves went 2 for 19.

Braves center fielder Jordan Schafer has not started since last Wednesday due to a jammed left middle finger, but played 11 innings Tuesday after entering in the ninth.

Tagged: Braves, Pirates, Julio Lugo, Brian McCann, Jair Jurrjens, Michael McKenry

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