Dodgers-Pirates Preview

The Pittsburgh Pirates’ series with the Los Angeles Dodgers is just the beginning to a nine-game stretch that looks like the sternest test of their playoff hopes.

The Pirates are off to a promising start with a pair of one-run wins and will try to add to that in emphatic fashion with their first three-game sweep of the Dodgers in 15 years Sunday night.

Pittsburgh is playing three consecutive three-game series against NL division leaders with the next two – against St. Louis and the New York Mets – on the road. The Pirates (64-44) haven’t squandered the opportunity to play the Dodgers at home, winning 5-4 in 10 innings Friday before Saturday’s 6-5 victory.

Starting pitcher Francisco Liriano hit a three-run homer in the latest win, and Neil Walker added a solo shot as Pittsburgh held on for its 14th win in 17 home games. The Pirates have also taken 10 of 14 overall while moving six games up on a playoff berth and staying 3 1/2 ahead of the Chicago Cubs for the top spot in the wild-card race.

Pittsburgh will next seek its first three-game sweep of Los Angeles (62-48) since Sept. 4-6, 2000, at Dodger Stadium. The Pirates haven’t swept three home games from the Dodgers since May 31-June 2, 1999, but will enter this attempt having won seven of nine overall against them since the beginning of last season.

Los Angeles had won six of seven before this series with four wins at home and two against one of the NL’s worst teams, Philadelphia. The Dodgers have lost five of seven on the road.

Charlie Morton (7-4, 4.19 ERA) will try to complete the sweep while building on his first win in six starts, a 3-0 victory in Cincinnati last Sunday. The right-hander struck out a season-high seven and walked none in seven innings after going 0-3 with a 5.04 ERA in his previous five outings.

"He had his best delivery today. He repeated his delivery all day long. It was a very solid effort," manager Clint Hurdle said.

While Morton will face the Dodgers for the first time since 2010, Alex Wood (7-7, 3.65) opposes the Pirates for the third time this year. He is 1-1 with a 2.19 ERA in those two starts and tossed 7 1-3 scoreless while fanning eight in a 2-1 victory at PNC Park in his latest June 28.

Wood is 1-0 with a 1.26 ERA in two lifetime starts in Pittsburgh.

The left-hander was a 6-2 loser at Philadelphia on Tuesday in his Dodgers debut, giving up four runs in 6 1-3 innings. He was charged with three after he exited when Joel Peralta gave up a grand slam to Maikel Franco.

"He didn’t deserve to be the guy with an L on his back after that," manager Don Mattingly told MLB’s official website. "You want him to come out of there with a good experience his first time. It should be more on us."

Wood, acquired from Atlanta on July 30, had a 2.61 ERA in his previous 19 road starts dating back to July 30, 2014.

Andrew McCutchen, batting .448 with nine RBIs and 10 runs in his last nine games, is 1 for 6 against him this season.

Jimmy Rollins, hitting .333 in his last 14 contests, is 7 for 11 with two doubles lifetime against Morton.