Pirates-Diamondbacks Preview

The Pittsburgh Pirates snapped their lengthy losing streak to

the Arizona Diamondbacks by knocking around one of baseball’s top

pitchers.

The Pirates look to build on this victory and win their first

series in the desert in nearly five years when they face the

Diamondbacks in Sunday’s finale.

With Friday’s series-opening 9-1 loss to Arizona, Pittsburgh

(3-2) dropped its sixth straight in the series. The games had

rarely been close during this stretch with the Pirates being

outscored 46-10.

Chances of ending this slide weren’t looking good for Pittsburgh

with Dan Haren taking the mound Saturday for the Diamondbacks

(3-2), but the Pirates had little trouble getting the best of the

three-time All-Star.

Aki Iwamura and Jeff Clement homered off Haren, and Pittsburgh

went on to win 6-3, just its fourth victory in 15 games at Chase

Field since 2006. The Pirates, who haven’t won a series in Phoenix

since taking three of four May 5-8, 2005, battered Haren for six

runs – five earned – and nine hits in 6 2-3 innings.

“You have to grind out your at-bats against a good pitcher like

him, keep pushing, and we did that, then took advantage of his

mistakes,” manager John Russell told the Pirates’ official Web

site.

Haren and Edwin Jackson (0-1, 5.40 ERA), the scheduled starter

for the series finale, are expected to lead Arizona’s rotation with

2006 NL Cy Young award winner Brandon Webb on the disabled list

while recovering from shoulder surgery.

Jackson gave up three runs and five hits with five strikeouts in

five innings of a 6-3 loss to San Diego on Tuesday in his

Diamondbacks debut.

“For a first start, I felt pretty good,” said the right-hander,

who went 13-9 with a 3.62 ERA in 22 starts for Detroit last season.

“I’ll just keep building off of it as the season progresses.”

Jackson is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in two career starts against the

Pirates, but hasn’t faced them since 2008.

Pittsburgh counters with Daniel McCutchen, who won the fifth

spot in the team’s rotation after going 0-2 with a 3.38 ERA in four

spring training games. In 13 1-3 innings in the Grapefruit League,

the right-hander struck out 10 and walked three.

“I’m ready to go,” McCutchen said. “I feel good with all of my

pitches.”

McCutchen made his major league debut last season, going 1-2

with a 4.21 ERA in six starts after being called up in late August.

He seemed to get better with each start, and recorded a 2.95 ERA

while throwing at least six innings in each of his final three

outings in 2009.

This will be his first career appearance against the

Diamondbacks, who might be without catcher Miguel Montero after he

left in the second inning Saturday with a knee injury.

Montero, who is 6 for 12 with three RBIs, was trying to avoid a

tag from Zach Duke when he landed awkwardly just before reaching

first base. Arizona manager A.J. Hinch said the knee didn’t have a

lot of swelling or pain, but Montero said it was uncomfortable. An

MRI was planned.

“Anytime you talk about knees, it’s scary,” Hinch said, “but

we’ll hope for the best and act accordingly.”