(Sports Network) - Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle hopes his team can
avoid the distractions of having the best record in baseball and a season-best
nine-game winning streak.
Hurdle's club looks to keep rolling along when it open a three-game series
versus the Philadelphia Phillies Tuesday at PNC Park.
"I've told them, 'You can't shut it out or ignore it, but you can control
where it takes you. That's up to you,'" Hurdle told the team's website. "The
lessons learned the past two years will be a strength for us moving forward.
We're happy with what we've done, but it's not going to change the process.
"I'm just enjoying the ride and looking forward to when this city will be
rocking. Somebody's got to hold the wheel; I didn't do a good enough job with
the wheel last year."
The Pirates are a major league-best 51-30 on the season, have won nine
straight and 11-of-13 and have a two-game edge on St. Louis for the NL Central
lead. They are coming off the third sweep in a row and closed a three-game set
versus Milwaukee with Sunday's 2-1 win in 14 innings.
Russell Martin had a pinch-hit RBI single in the bottom of the 14th and plated
Gaby Sanchez for the game-winning run.
"I was just anxiously waiting for an opportunity," Martin said of his hit.
Andrew McCutchen kept the Pirates alive with an RBI single in the eighth
inning and Starling Marte finished with two hits for Pittsburgh, which hasn't
lost since June 19 at Cincinnati and has won the last nine home games that
have been decided by one run.
Charlie Morton pitched the first two innings and Tony Watson took care of the
last three for the win. Pedro Alvarez went 0-for-6 and had his 12-game hitting
streak come to an end. He batted .396 during the run.
Pittsburgh, which last won 10 in a row from June 26-July 5, 2004, is 21 games
above .500 for the first time since ending the 1992 season with a 96-66
Jeff Locke is slated to pitch for the Buccos Tuesday and hasn't lost since his
season debut on April 7 at Los Angeles. Locke is 7-0 with a 1.79 earned run
average in his last 15 starts and spun seven innings of two-run ball in a 9-4
win at Seattle last Tuesday to improve to 7-1 in 16 starts with a 2.06 ERA.
Locke is 3-0 in seven home starts this season and has not allowed a run at PNC
Park in his past 20 1/3 innings. The left-hander faced the Phillies for the
first time in his career on April 23 and produced six scoreless innings in a
2-0 win at Citizens Bank Park.
Philadelphia will continue its 10-game road trip (3-4) and lost three of four
matchups with the Dodgers over the weekend. In Sunday's 6-1 loss at Chavez
Ravine, Kyle Kendrick struggled through six innings and gave up four runs and
10 hits in six innings of work. He suffered a mild concussion when he took a
pitch to the head in the sixth inning.
"I feel OK," Kendrick said. "I have a headache. I feel like I got hit in the
head. The good thing is it's mild."
Jimmy Rollins had two hits and the team's only RBI, while Ryan Howard
continued to struggle with an 0-for-4 performance and three strikeouts.
Howard, who is hitless in his last 20 at-bats, is batting just .194 with seven
hits and five RBI in his last 10 games.
"We've got to keep working with him and everybody because we need him to hit.
We need to get him right," Phils manager Charlie Manuel said. "Believe me,
we're going to keep trying."
The Phillies have lost seven of 11 games and hope Jonathan Pettibone can cool
down the red-hot Pirates when he takes the mound Tuesday. Pettibone is 0-3 in
his last eight starts and hasn't won since May 14, when he was 3-0. He allowed
three runs in six innings of a no-decision last Thursday at Los Angeles in a
6-4 setback and remained at 3-3 in 13 starts with a 4.17 ERA.
Pettibone is 1-2 in six road starts and made his major league against
Pittsburgh on April 22, when he delivered 5 1/3 innings of two-run ball in a
3-2 win for a no-decision.
Pittsburgh won three of four in that late April series and is 7-3 in the past
10 matchups between the Keystone State rivals.
The Sports Network