Pirates-Rockies Preview

The Pittsburgh Pirates are eager to get back to playing the way

they were before the All-Star break.

They’d be fine, however, if scheduled starter Erik Bedard didn’t

pick up from where he left off.

The Pirates, losers of Bedard’s last five starts, try to avoid

dropping their third in a row Tuesday night against the Colorado

Rockies.

Pittsburgh (49-40) finished the season’s first half on a 10-2

surge to take a division lead into the break for the first time

since 1997. Having dropped three of four since the Midsummer

Classic, though, the Pirates are now a game back of NL

Central-leading Cincinnati.

Pittsburgh made things interesting Monday after Pedro Alvarez

hit a game-tying three-run homer in the ninth inning on the first

pitch following a 53-minute rain delay. The Rockies (35-54) didn’t

flinch, though, and won 5-4 on Dexter Fowler’s sacrifice fly in the

bottom of the ninth.

“We knew we were going to put something together,” said Fowler,

batting .438 in his last eight games.

Andrew McCutchen had a relatively quiet game with a pair of

singles, raising his major league-leading average to .372, but his

four-game homer streak came to an end. He is batting .556 with

seven home runs and 16 RBIs in his last 13 games.

Neil Walker has also been swinging a hot bat, hitting .476 with

eight doubles and 14 RBIs during a 16-game hitting streak, but his

play has been overshadowed by McCutchen’s.

Led by those two, the Pirates have the NL’s top offense since

June 1 with 216 runs and 58 homers, but Bedard (4-10, 4.80 ERA)

hasn’t been able to take advantage.

He has an 8.16 ERA in losing his last three starts, and is 0-4

with a 7.99 ERA in his last five since beating Kansas City on June

8. Through 17 starts, the left-hander is already one defeat away

from matching his career high, set while playing for Baltimore in

2006, when he made a career-high 33 starts.

“We’ll look at the tape and try to get things figured out over

the break,” manager Clint Hurdle said after Bedard was knocked

around for five runs in 3 2-3 innings of a 6-5 loss to San

Francisco on July 6.

While Bedard has had trouble pitching at PNC Park, he has been

especially brutal away from Pittsburgh, recording a 9.51 ERA in

losing his last five road starts. This will be his first appearance

at hitter-friendly Coors Field and first time facing Carlos

Gonzalez, who is batting .429 with seven homers, nine doubles and

22 RBIs during a 23-game home hitting streak.

Colorado, which ranks second in the NL in runs with 430 and has

scored at least five in three of its four games since the break,

will give the ball to Christian Friedrich (5-6, 5.60).

Friedrich gave up a run and five hits while striking out seven

in six innings of Friday’s 6-2 home victory over Philadelphia, his

first win since June 4. Despite going 0-5 with a 7.85 ERA in six

starts between victories, he still leads the Rockies in wins.

The rookie left-hander is finally starting to look comfortable

at Coors, allowing a run in each of his last two starts there after

posting an 11.64 ERA in his first four.

Bedard made his only career start against the Rockies on June

10, 2007, giving up three runs in five innings of a 6-1 loss for

the Orioles.