Pirates look to extend winning streak against Rockies

DENVER — The Pittsburgh Pirates will be looking to extend their season-high winning streak to seven games and win for the 13th time in 15 games when they play the Colorado Rockies on Saturday.

The Pirates’ six-game winning streak is their longest since they won a season-high seven straight last year between June 29 and July 6.

Chad Kuhl (3-6, 4.85 ERA) will start for the Pirates with German Marquez (7-4, 4.34) taking the mound for the Rockies.

With a 13-5 win Friday night to begin a nine-game, 10-day road trip, the Pirates (49-48) moved above .500 for the first time since they were 3-2 on April 9. The Pirates have made the long climb to a winning record by going 35-26 since May 13, which is the best record from that point in the National League Central.

“We don’t get out of sorts when things don’t go our way,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “We’ve had a number of different situations we’ve had to work through as a club. We’ve shown togetherness from Opening Day until now and unselfishness.

“That’s what’s helped us get through some of the challenges. That’s what we’ll continue to rely on, to continue to push because as you get into the season, there’s just mile markers. We haven’t reached anything. Our record is what it is. We’re still hunting. And we’re in Colorado, playing a good club in their ballpark.”

Kuhl and Marquez faced each other June 14 at Pittsburgh, the only time Kuhl has faced the Rockies and the only time Marquez has faced the Pirates. The Rockies won that game 5-1, and both starters were involved in the decision.

Kuhl is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA against the Rockies after allowing four hits, including Ian Desmond’s solo homer, and three runs in five innings. Kuhl had a career-high seven strikeouts in his last start, a no-decision Monday against Milwaukee when he gave up four hits and two runs in 5 2/3 innings.

The Pirates are 7-12 in starts by Kuhl, who is 1-0 with a 2.49 ERA in four starts this month and 2-2 with a 3.69 ERA in nine road starts this season.

Marquez is 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA against the Pirates, having allowed one run and four hits in five innings.

The Rockies are 9-6 in starts by Marquez, who pitched 6 2/3 innings Monday against the Padres and won as he allowed three runs, eight hits and two walks with a career-high-tying nine strikeouts. Marquez is 2-0 with a 3.95 ERA in his past two starts with two walks and 14 strikeouts in a span of 13 2/3 innings.

About a month ago, Marquez said he moved slightly toward the third-base side of the pitching rubber at the suggestion of bullpen coach Darren Holmes in his throwing sessions between starts. That small shift has paid dividends for Marquez.

“I’ve been working out with Darren Holmes in my bullpens,” Marquez said. “I moved a little bit on the rubber toward the right side. That helped me out a lot getting extension with my fastball (and locating it better) down and away to righties. I feel more comfortable than the beginning of the season, because I’ve made some adjustments in (honing) my fastball command, and my changeup is getting better. It’s coming.”

Marquez’s best secondary pitch is his curveball, which breaks sharply and which he is typically able to locate. But that pitch has a chance to be more effective if Marquez’s fastball command is solid and he can play his curveball off his fastball.