Phillies-Pirates Preview

The Pittsburgh Pirates captured a series from the Philadelphia

Phillies on Saturday night in front of the largest crowd in PNC

Park history. If they can complete a sweep, they’ll do something

that’s happened only once in the ballpark’s 11-year history.

The Pirates look to reach .500 after June 1 for just the second

time since PNC opened, but Roy Halladay stands in their way Sunday

afternoon as he tries to help the Phillies avoid a season-high

fifth straight loss.

For a franchise that hasn’t finished with a winning record since

1992, getting to .500 means a bit more to the Pirates (28-29) than

most clubs.

Pittsburgh was a game over at 18-17 on May 9 before losing six

straight, but it’s threatening to get back to the break-even point

after a pair of wins against the Phillies. After pulling out a 2-1

victory in 12 innings Friday, the Pirates got three hits apiece

from Andrew McCutchen and Lyle Overbay and seven strong innings

from Charlie Morton to win 6-3 on Saturday in front of a record

crowd of 39,441.

“That was the most energized crowd that I think I’ve ever

pitched in front of,” Morton said after Pittsburgh beat the

Phillies (34-24) at home for the sixth time in seven games. “It was

just an unbelievable atmosphere. It was just pretty awesome.”

The only other time Pittsburgh’s reached .500 after May was June

11, 2005, when it got to 30-30 before losing five in a row.

Getting there Sunday certainly won’t be easy with Halladay (7-3,

2.56 ERA) on the hill. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner is 1-1

with a 1.13 ERA in three career starts against the Pirates, though

he suffered a 2-1 loss May 18, 2010, at Citizens Bank Park despite

going the distance.

Overbay and Garrett Jones are a combined 6 for 9 against

Halladay.

The right-hander hasn’t exactly been on top of his game in his

last few starts, allowing 21 hits and seven runs over 14 innings,

but he was good enough to win Monday in muggy Washington. Halladay

gave up three solo homers over seven innings and four runs overall

in a 5-4 victory.

“I saw him gut it out,” manager Charlie Manuel told the

Phillies’ official website. “Teams get up for Roy, which is good.

He likes that. That’s part of competing. That’s part of who he is.

That’s part of wanting to be a champion. Some days you’re going to

get hit, but I’d say he passed the test pretty good today.”

James McDonald (3-3, 4.85) tries to help complete the sweep

while building off some strong recent performances. He’s gone at

least six innings without allowing more than two runs in six of his

last seven starts.

McDonald left without a decision in a 5-1 victory on Tuesday

despite holding the Mets to one run over six innings, but manager

Clint Hurdle was impressed after the right-hander neutralized a

threat with a strikeout on his final pitch.

“James pitched outstanding baseball,” Hurdle said. “The way he

finished the sixth inning was impressive as well.”

McDonald has made only two relief appearances against the

Phillies.

There’s a good chance he might not see Jimmy Rollins in his

first start versus Philadelphia, which has totaled seven runs

during its four-game slide. Rollins fouled a ball off his right

knee in the first inning Saturday and left in the third, and though

the injury doesn’t appear serious, it’ll likely keep him out

Sunday.

The Phillies haven’t lost five straight since May 22-27,

2010.