Aug. 9, 2011
PITTSBURGH (55-59) vs.
Coverage begins at 6:30 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The Pittsburgh Pirates' once-solid pitching staff fell apart during a 10-game losing skid, but they finally found a lineup they could handle in their opener against the San Francisco Giants.
Madison Bumgarner knows all too well about his team's offensive struggles.
Support has been hard to come by for Bumgarner, who tries to continue a stretch of solid pitching at home while hoping for some help Tuesday night as the Giants and Pirates continue this three-game set.
The sixth-best ERA in the majors (3.32) had Pittsburgh (55-59) in the thick of the NL Central race through July 28, but a staff that seemed to be maximizing its talent bottomed out over the next 10 days. The Pirates gave up 82 runs - 20 more than any other MLB team - during a 10-game skid that dropped them from 1 12 games out of first place to 10 back.
Pittsburgh got back to what had it in contention to begin with Monday night. Charlie Morton pitched eight strong innings and the Pirates went 5 for 13 with runners in scoring position in a 5-0 win.
"All in all, it was one of the better games we've had the last couple weeks," manager Clint Hurdle said. "It's a good start. It's all we could do tonight to go play a complete ballgame."
The Giants (63-53) couldn't get a hit in 10 tries with runners on second or third - they're 4 for 40 in their last five games - though their lineup was hardly intimidating. Carlos Beltran sat out because of a strained right hand and wrist, an injury that isn't believed to be serious but prompted a precautionary MRI.
"As soon as I feel I can swing the bat, I'll be out there," Beltran said. "There are injuries where you can go out there and be under control. Swinging the bat is a huge part of the game. Throwing the ball is a huge part of the game."
He received treatment for the inflammation all day Monday and plans to test the hand with some simulation exercises Tuesday, but it's unclear whether he'll be able to return.
San Francisco certainly could use his help. The club still leads Arizona by one-half game in the NL West, but it has averaged 2.0 runs during a 2-9 stretch.
"This has been going on for a while and we need to do something about it," manager Bruce Bochy said of the Giants' offensive struggles. "It's not going to happen until we do come through with some clutch hitting."
A lack of support is nothing new to Bumgarner (6-11, 3.71 ERA), who's been given 2.73 runs per nine innings - third-worst in the majors.
The Giants have scored one run or fewer in 11 of his 23 starts, and they didn't give him any help Thursday. The left-hander held Philadelphia to two solo homers over eight innings - striking out nine - but lost 3-0, falling to 2-1 with a 2.28 ERA in three home outings since the All-Star break.
"Eight innings of great work by Bum," Bochy told the Giants' official website. "He should feel good about that outing."
Bumgarner fared well in his lone career start against the Pirates, holding them to one run over six innings at PNC Park on April 27. But again, San Francisco failed to score in a 2-0 loss.
James McDonald (7-5, 4.23) was the winner that day, limiting the Giants to four hits over six innings.
He gave up four hits Thursday against the Cubs as well, but they inflicted much more damage. Three left the park, and the right-hander ended up without a decision in Pittsburgh's 7-6 loss.
McDonald's road ERA (5.53) is nearly 2.5 runs higher than at home (3.08).