The Pittsburgh Pirates have yet to break out offensively during their long homestand, but timely hitting and quality pitching has kept their winning ways alive.
The San Diego Padres are the latest victim of the Pirates, who seek their sixth home sweep of the season Wednesday night.
Pittsburgh (49-34) opened its 10-game home stay with a loss to Cleveland but has since won four straight, all by two or fewer runs. Gregory Polanco delivered the big hit Tuesday with a go-ahead RBI triple in the eighth inning of a 3-2 victory.
The win secured the Pirates first series win at home against the Padres (39-47) since 2000.
"Well, we can knock this off the to-do list, for sure," manager Clint Hurdle told MLB’s official website. "We won a series at home against San Diego. Good stuff."
Pittsburgh, which has totaled 13 runs on its homestand, is an MLB-best 31-12 since May 22, and has won 19 of its last 25 at PNC Park behind a 1.88 ERA from the starting staff in that span.
Charlie Morton (6-2, 4.30 ERA) suffered the most recent loss in that otherwise torrid stretch in a 5-2 defeat to Cleveland on Friday, but looks for redemption against a team he has found success. Including a five-run outing against San Diego on Aug. 10, Morton owns a 2.65 ERA in six starts with the Padres and has held them to a .173 average – his lowest against any NL opponent.
The right-hander worked consecutive scoreless outings June 10 and 16, but has a 11.37 ERA in three starts since.
Morton will oppose Andrew Cashner (3-9, 4.06), who posted a quality start in eight of his first 10 appearances and seems to have finally recovered from a long slump in which he allowed 29 runs in 26 innings from June 1-21. The right-hander posted a 2.08 ERA over his last two starts, including six strong innings in San Diego’s 2-1 win over St. Louis on Friday.
Cashner’s last outing in Pittsburgh was perhaps the best of his career, as he pitched a one-hitter in a 2-0 win Sept. 16, 2013. Another long outing from Cashner on Wednesday would be welcomed by the San Diego bullpen, which was tasked with seven innings Tuesday after Tyson Ross did not return following a lengthy rain delay in the third inning.
"We made that decision early and decided it was best for the young man to not go back out there after an hour and 45 minutes and then the possibility of more rain and everything else," interim manager Pat Murphy said. "He’s got a little blister on his finger that he’s dealt with, so that was probably another factor."
Andrew McCutchen is hitting .383 with 10 extra-base hits and a 1.212 OPS over his current 14-game hitting streak, and he has doubled in three straight. He would have had his 11th home run if not for left fielder Justin Upton, who robbed McCutchen on Tuesday.
Offensively, however, Upton has struggled, going 3 for 30 in his last eight games.