MLB

Sun, Apr 10, 2011 - 1:35 PM ET
 

Rockies-Pirates Preview

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Now in his second full season in the majors, the Colorado Rockies are anticipating big things from Jhoulys Chacin.

The talented right-hander lived up to expectations in his impressive season debut.

Chacin takes the mound Sunday as the Rockies try for a sixth victory in seven games and close out a four-game set at the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Chacin (1-0. 0.00), who went 4-2 with a 1.44 ERA over the last eight starts of his 2010 rookie season, seemed to pick up right where he left off in his 2011 debut, limiting the Los Angeles Dodgers to five hits over seven innings of a 3-0 win Tuesday.

"I pitched how I was expecting to pitch," Chacin said. "I did what I was supposed to do - throw strikes and win the game."

Chacin, who didn't allow a run over his last 16 innings on the road in 2010, earned high praise from manager Jim Tracy for Tuesday's performance.

"Jhoulys Chacin was good," Tracy told the Rockies' official website, "but I think you'll see him better."

The 23-year-old right-hander gave up four runs and a career-worst six walks in 2 2-3 innings of a 7-3 loss to the Pirates on Aug. 11, 2009. Current Pittsburgh batters are a combined 1 for 11 against him, but with seven walks.

Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez went 3 for 4 with a run scored Saturday night, and first baseman Ty Wigginton's tie-breaking three-run double in the eighth inning helped Colorado (5-2) defeat Pittsburgh 6-4 to achieve its best start since 2006, when it also opened 5-2.

After going 1 for 15 with runners in scoring position during Friday night's 14-inning, 4-3 loss, the Rockies were much better in that category Saturday, going 3 for 9.

Colorado is averaging 5.0 runs per game despite Troy Tulowitzki's ongoing struggles. The All-Star shortstop went 0 for 4 for the second consecutive night and saw his batting average drop to .192.

First baseman Todd Helton, who was scratched prior to Friday's game with a stiff back but made a pinch-hitting appearance, missed all of Saturday's contest. His status for this game is unknown.

Unlike Chacin, probable Pittsburgh starter James McDonald (0-1, 3.86) failed to impress in his first start, surrendering two runs, four hits and four walks in 4 2-3 innings of Tuesday's 3-2 loss at St. Louis.

"Arm strong, threw some good breaking balls, command a little iffy right now," manager Clint Hurdle said of the right-hander, who went 4-1 with a 2.91 ERA in six home starts last season after he was acquired from the Dodgers. "But he battled to almost get through five. He needs to get in front of hitters a little more."

McDonald is 2-0 with a 2.93 ERA in three career starts against the Rockies.

Pittsburgh leadoff hitter Jose Tabata went 1 for 3 with his second home run in as many nights. Tabata, batting .343, has hit safely in all nine games but continues to be a rare bright spot in a struggling lineup.

"We just have a couple bats that are close to opening up," Hurdle said. "It sure would help our offense if we get a couple more guys in play."

Third baseman Pedro Alvarez, hitting .184, went 0 for 4 for the fifth time in nine games. He has one hit in his last 16 at-bats.

Tagged: Pirates, Rockies, Jhoulys Chacin

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