Pirates-Padres Preview

A.J. Burnett is enjoying a late-career resurgence with the

Pittsburgh Pirates in 2012, while the San Diego Padres are Jason

Marquis’ second team this season and sixth in the last five

years.

When the right-handers matched up 10 days ago, those narratives

didn’t continue quite the same way.

Marquis looks to shut down the Pirates yet again Tuesday night

at Petco Park while Burnett tries to bounce back from a pair of

rough outings to become Pittsburgh’s first 16-game winner in 21

years.

Burnett (15-4, 3.54 ERA) has given the Pirates a true

front-of-the-rotation starter following three rocky years with the

Yankees, but his last two starts have been a slight cause for

concern. He allowed five runs and nine hits over 5 2-3 innings of a

5-0 loss to San Diego (54-70) on Aug. 11, then gave up six runs

over 6 2-3 in a 10-6 victory over Los Angeles on Thursday.

Still, Burnett will take the hill Tuesday looking to become the

Pirates’ first 16-game winner since 1991, when John Smiley won 20

and Zane Smith 16.

Marquis (6-7, 4.08), meanwhile, has won 18 games while posting a

5.18 ERA in 57 starts for four teams over the past three seasons.

That’s why it was so surprising when the journeyman tossed a

two-hitter at PNC Park to beat Burnett earlier this month, taking a

no-no into the seventh.

“He can be very efficient with the late life (on his sinker).

You’ve got to get under that ball, or stay inside of it,”

Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle, who briefly managed Marquis in

Colorado, told the Pirates’ official website. “I’ve seen that, and

it can be challenging, because you keep wanting to hit, but you

don’t hit anything hard.

“It’s the late life, it’s the late movement, staying off the

barrel, staying down. A lot of ground balls from our side, and just

not many balls squared up at all.”

The Pirates (67-55) didn’t get many balls squared up in Monday’s

series opener, striking out 13 times in a 3-1 loss as their lead

for the NL’s second wild-card spot dropped to one-half game over

the Dodgers.

Pittsburgh’s 163 strikeouts in August are the most in the

majors. League MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen is the latest

surprising culprit, going 3 for 18 with nine strikeouts over his

last three games.

McCutchen is hitting just .206 without a homer in 18 career

contests against San Diego, with the Pirates going 4-14. He has

three singles in 26 career at-bats at Petco.

Burnett, on the other hand, might welcome a start in San Diego.

Though he’s generally been at his best at home in 2012, he’s 3-0

with a 1.44 ERA and .100 opponent batting average in his last three

road starts.

He’s made two starts in San Diego – one a nondescript outing at

Petco in 2005, and the other his infamous nine-walk no-hitter at

Qualcomm Stadium in 2001 with Florida.

Marquis is 6-1 with a 2.80 ERA in his last seven starts against

the Pirates. Six of the 14 earned runs he’s allowed in that stretch

came in the lone loss.

Marquis enters this start looking to bounce back from a rough

outing. After the two-hitter in Pittsburgh, he saw three pitches

leave Turner Field and didn’t make it through the fifth inning of

Thursday’s 6-0 loss to Atlanta.