Owners of the worst road record in the majors, the Pittsburgh Pirates face a difficult task trying to end their lengthy skid at Dodger Stadium.
The Pirates look to avoid a 10th straight loss to the Dodgers in Los Angeles on Thursday night.
Pittsburgh (23-29) opened a 10-game trip by pounding out 12 hits in a 5-3 win over the New York Mets on Monday, but totaled two runs and 11 hits while losing the next two.
The Pirates are batting .267 and averaging 4.3 runs while going 16-13 at home, but hit .221 and score 3.1 per contest on the road where they’re 7-16. They went 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position and recorded one extra-base hit in the last two at Citi Field.
It didn’t help that three Pittsburgh pitchers walked eight batters and the team made two errors while losing for the third time in four contests, 5-0 on Wednesday.
"It’s not one thing," manager Clint Hurdle told the Pirates’ official website. "We have work to do. Flat out, we have work to do. We have to play better."
Pittsburgh certainly needs to improve at Chavez Ravine, where it’s hit .167 while being outscored 47-10 during a nine-game skid there – the club’s longest active road losing streak against any opponent.
It’s also the longest current home winning stretch against an opponent for Los Angeles (29-25), which has won 17 of 19 there against the Pirates.
Reigning NL MVP Andrew McCutchen was 5 for 10 with four walks at Citi Field this week, but went 2 for 11 with a two-run homer that accounted for all of the Pirates’ runs during last season’s three-game set at Dodger Stadium.
Gerrit Cole (4-3, 3.76 ERA) allowed three runs in 5 2-3 innings of a 6-3 home win over the Dodgers last season, but the southern California native will make his first appearance at Los Angeles in the opener.
The right-hander yielded three runs and seven hits in three straight starts before he gave up two and five hits in six innings while not factoring in the decision of a 3-2 win over Washington on Saturday.
Yasiel Puig went 3 for 3 against Cole last season, and homered Wednesday as the Dodgers’ three-game winning streak ended with a 3-2 loss to Cincinnati.
Among the major league leaders batting .344, Puig went 6 for 13 against the Pirates last season. He has reached base safely in 29 straight games during which he’s hitting .402 with a .504 on-base percentage.
Los Angeles’ Dan Haren (5-3, 3.16) is 2-0 with a 2.39 ERA in four home starts, but looks to avoid losing a third straight outing after he allowed 10 runs – six earned – in 12 innings in his last two overall. He yielded five runs, but two earned, in six innings of a 5-3 loss at Philadelphia on Saturday.
"Danny has really been doing what we expect him to do," manager Don Mattingly told the Dodgers’ official website. "He keeps us in the game. He’s a guy that keeps battling and changing speeds. He’s not the guy with the 95-mph fastball anymore with the heavy split. He hits spots, he hits corners and he’s going to keep fighting."
Haren went 2-0 with a 2.96 ERA in his first four starts versus Pittsburgh, but is 1-2 with a 7.15 ERA in his last four.
McCutchen is 4 for 9 with two home runs and a double against the right-hander.