Surging Pirates start extended trip in Colorado

The surging Pirates and the rejuvenated Rockies will begin a three-game series Friday that will wind up Colorado’s homestand and launch Pittsburgh’s long road trip.

Jeff Hoffman (6-1, 4.33 ERA) will start for the Rockies and be opposed by Trevor Williams (3-4, 4.69).

The Pirates, coming off a four-game sweep of Milwaukee, have won a season-high five straight games, eight of their past nine and 11 of their past 13. Since the All-Star break, the Pirates have won three games in the ninth inning or later. During their winning streak, the Pirates have scored four runs four times and three runs once, winning three games by one run and one game by two.

Pittsburgh’s four-game sweep of the Brewers was its first four-game sweep from any team at PNC Park since July 29-31, 2013, against St. Louis. The Pirates’ 34-26 record since May 13 is the best among National League Central teams.

A 4-2 win over the Brewers on Thursday enabled the Pirates (49-49) to get back to .500 for the first time since April 16 (6-6).

“I think it’s another mile marker on the way,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “You’ve got to play better than .500. Nobody’s won a division playing under .500. There will be no catching our breath or, ‘Ah, we’ve made it.’ We haven’t made it. We’re heading in the right direction. We’re hunting the good stuff. We’re playing better baseball.”

The Pirates on Friday will try go above .500 for the first time since they were 3-2 on April 9. They have won five of their past six games on the road and are 4-1-3 in their last eight series away from home since being swept in Los Angeles, May 8-10, by the Dodgers. The Pirates, who are 21-25 on the road, are beginning a nine-game, 10-day trip that will also take them to San Francisco and San Diego.

Williams, who has never faced the Rockies, gave up 10 hits and two runs in 5 2/3 innings against St. Louis on Sunday as the Pirates won 4-3. The Pirates are 6-7 in games started by Williams, who went into the rotation May 8 and gave up eight runs (six earned) in three innings at the Dodgers. In 12 starts since that game, Williams is 2-2 with a 3.95 ERA.

Hoffman won his last start Sunday at the New York Mets, allowing four runs in six innings in the Rockies’ 13-4 romp. The Rockies are 7-3 in games started by Hoffman, who has pitched seven innings in his past two starts at Coors Field, going 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA.

The Pirates series will conclude the Rockies’ six-game homestand that began with a three-game sweep of San Diego, improving Colorado’s home record to 29-18.

The Rockies had lost 15 of 20 games after stumbling out of the All-Star break and losing 14-2 and 9-3 to the Mets before winning Sunday. During their four-game winning streak, the Rockies have outscored opponents 49-21.

On Thursday, the Rockies scored 18 runs, their most since scoring 18 on April 27, 2012, against the Mets. They pounded 21 hits, their most since they had 21 on Sept. 17, 2014, against the Dodgers.

“The last game in New York, I thought was a really good game as far as the at-bats,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “We got beat pretty soundly those first two games, didn’t pitch well. Our guys came out Sunday morning on a mission. I think that’s just been carrying over; I really do.”