The Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves close out a highly-contested four-game series Thursday night at Turner Field
Pittsburgh Pirates at Atlanta Braves
Pittsburgh has dropped consecutive extra-inning games against Atlanta, including a 2-1 defeat last night at Turner Field. The Pirates offense went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position in the contest and weren’t able to muster up two hits in any frame. “We’ve had some spurts where we have been much better,” said manager Clint Hurdle. “We’re not built to slug.” The club has noticeably slowed down by posting an 11-9 record over the last 20 games and has fallen out of the top spot in the NL Central division. Pitching continues to be a major strength for the overachieving squad, entering today second in baseball with a 2.94 ERA this month, trailing only the San Francisco Giants. Pittsburgh is 27-24 on the road this season and 27-21 following a loss.
Pirates starting pitcher Kevin Correia is 11-8 with a 4.38 ERA in 22 appearances (21 starts) this season. The right-hander will be trying to pick up his first victory since July 3, giving up 15 runs and 22 hits over his last 14 1/3 innings of work over a three-game span. Correia has enjoyed tremendous success away from PNC Park, posting a 9-2 record and 2.85 ERA in 12 outings. In eight career appearances (four starts) versus the Braves, he has tallied an even 1-1 mark and 4.56 ERA.
Atlanta has come away with some emotional victories after dropping the series opener and received a major contribution from backup catcher David Ross. Filling in for the recently injured All-Star backstop Brian McCann, he finished last night 2 for 4 with two RBIs. You’re not replacing B-Mac,” he commented. “I’m trying to get in there and hold down the fort.” Since June 1, the Braves have gone 31-18 and own the second-best record in the NL over that span. The club has seen better days at the plate with runners in scoring position, going 5-for-32 over the past two games. Atlanta is now 32-20 at home this season and 44-29 versus right-handed starters.
Braves starting pitcher Derek Lowe enters with a losing 6-8 record and 4.49 ERA in 22 starts this season. Atlanta has alternated wins and losses with him on the hill over his last four outings, picking up an 11-2 road defeat in Cincinnati last time out. He allowed four runs and six hits over five frames in that particular effort. Lowe will also be making his ninth home start of the year, bringing in a 2-1 record and 5.04 ERA, as opponents are hitting .270 against him. The 38-year-old will put his 10-0 career record and 2.64 ERA against the Pirates on the line tonight.
Bettors will be interested in backing the Braves due to their 6-1 mark in Lowe’s last seven games as a home favorite, while the Pirates are 34-72 in the fourth game of a series