Cards travel to Pittsburgh for three-game set

BY foxsports • April 15, 2013

(AP) -- The Pittsburgh Pirates just completed a sweep over a rival for the first time in three years. Now they'll try to end an even longer sweep drought against another NL Central foe.

The Pittsburgh Pirates continue their 10-game homestand as they open a three-game set with the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday.

The Pirates rallied from a 5-0, seventh-inning deficit to beat Cincinnati 10-7 on Sunday, completing their three-game sweep of the Reds. It was the first sweep for Pittsburgh (6-6) over Cincinnati since April 16-18, 2010.

Backup catcher Michael McKenry had the first two-homer game of his career, and Sterling Marte hit a two-run home run.

"The home run gave us some hope," said Travis Snider, who had an RBI double. "We hit some balls hard early in the game and didn't have anything to show for it, but then (Reds starter Mat) Latos started making a lot of tough pitches. We hung with it, though, and it's a testament to the character of this team."

It's been even longer since the Pirates swept the Cardinals (7-5). Despite their modest success against them last season – Pittsburgh claimed the season series 8-7 – the Pirates haven't swept St. Louis since Sept. 12-14, 2008.

The Cardinals have won a World Series and gone to the playoffs three times since that sweep happened, while Pittsburgh is still looking for its first winning season since 1992. The Pirates have a chance to move into a tie for first with a victory Monday thanks to a surging offense.

After scoring only eight runs in their first six games, the Pirates have 32 in their last six, going 5-1 to even their record.

"You just don't expect to do that kind of damage against pitchers Latos and (Jonathan) Broxton," McKenry said. "They're very good pitchers, and Latos has been particularly tough on us. I didn't know if we'd get to him the way he was pitching."

St. Louis missed on its chance to sweep Milwaukee, blowing a 3-0 lead after seven innings and losing 4-3 in 10 innings.

The loss ended the Cardinals four-game winning streak. It also snapped their team-record 39-inning shutout streak.

Current closer Mitchell Boggs blew the save by giving up two hits, including an RBI double by Yuniesky Betancourt, in the top of the ninth. Ryan Braun had made it 3-2 with a homer in the eighth inning. The Cardinals bullpen allowed all four runs after starter Jaime Garcia had pitched seven scoreless innings.

"Days like today are tough," Boggs said. "I'm not going to stand here and act like it doesn't affect me, because I care. I wanted to help us win a ballgame today. I didn't do that. If you're a professional, you show up the next day and do your job."

Cardinals rookie Matt Adams continued his torrid hitting. He homered for the third straight game and has a hit in all five games he's played this season.

"I'm seeing it well, and feeling good at that plate," said Adams, who's batting .611 (11-for-18). "It all comes back to the work I'm getting in the cage before the game and making sure I watch the video and I'm prepared."

Lance Lynn (1-1, 4.50 ERA) takes the mound for St. Louis, which is beginning a 10-game road trip. Lynn earned his first win of the season by allowing only one run and four hits in six innings of a 5-1 win over Cincinnati on Tuesday.

The Pirates' James McDonald (1-1, 3.75 ERA) opposes Lynn. McDonald has had good success against St. Louis, going 4-1 with a 2.27 ERA in six career starts – 10 games overall.

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