Pirates-Giants Preview

Ending a six-game losing streak at AT&T Park has the

Pittsburgh Pirates on the cusp of winning their first series there

in almost three years. Some improvement from their pitchers might

instill even more confidence.

The Pirates look to take two of three from the San Francisco

Giants on Wednesday afternoon.

Pittsburgh (4-4) is .500 after eight games for a second

consecutive season following a 6-5 win over the Giants (6-2) on

Tuesday night. The victory was the Pirates’ first at San Francisco

since Sept. 5, 2008, and came after they dropped four of five while

getting outscored 46-18.

“We definitely needed that after a couple of tough losses,” said

left fielder Garrett Jones, who collected three hits with two RBIs

Tuesday. “We got some big hits when we needed them and scored just

enough to win.”

Pittsburgh’s lineup is producing 5.01 runs per game after

ranking 28th in the majors at 4.04 last year. However, the club’s

pitchers haven’t taken advantage of that increased support.

The Pirates’ staff is last in the majors with a 7.46 ERA, while

the rotation has been even worse with a major league-worst 8.38

mark.

They’ll now turn to Charlie Morton (0-1, 21.60) in an effort to

win their first series at San Francisco since a three-game sweep

Aug. 10-12, 2007.

Morton was hit hard in his season debut during Friday’s 9-1 loss

at Arizona. The right-hander surrendered eight runs and nine hits

with one hit batter before being pulled with one out in the

fourth.

“I just didn’t bear down,” said Morton, who also had six

strikeouts Friday. “I had good life on my fastball and I was

confident in it, then I started to fall behind throwing too much

off-speed stuff and not focusing on getting ahead with the

fastball.”

Morton hasn’t received much help in three starts against the

Giants, going 1-2 with a 2.37 ERA while getting three total runs of

support. He was impressive in his only start in San Francisco,

yielding two runs with five strikeouts in six innings of a 3-2 loss

July 28.

Despite losing Tuesday, the Giants are still enjoying their best

start since going 13-1 in 2003 – the last year they won the NL West

and reached the playoffs.

Bengie Molina has feasted on Pirates’ pitching, hitting .591

with one homer and five RBIs in his last six games. The catcher is

also a big reason for San Francisco’s impressive start to 2010,

going 10 for 22 with a homer and a team-leading seven RBIs in six

games with six hits and four RBIs coming in this series.

Jonathan Sanchez (0-0, 6.23) is scheduled to take the mound

looking to improve upon a shaky season debut.

The left-hander allowed three runs and seven hits while striking

out six, but only lasted 4 1-3 of a 5-4, 13-inning win over Atlanta

on Friday.

He’s failed to complete six innings in each of his last six

starts, going 2-1 with a 5.52 ERA while fanning 29 in 29 1-3

innings.

Sanchez hasn’t done much better against the Pirates, going 0-1

with a 14.04 ERA in four games – two starts.