Pittsburgh snapped it's longest losing streak of the season on Saturday and will be looking for a series win this afternoon when they face off with the Cleveland Indians in the rubber match of a three-game set at Progressive Field.
The Pirates had lost four straight entering Saturday's game after falling, 2-0, to Cleveland on Friday night. But, A.J. Burnett gave up two runs over 6 2/3 innings and won his sixth consecutive start in the Bucs' 9-2 triumph.
Burnett's streak is the best run by a Pirates pitcher since Doug Drabek won six straight in 1990, the same year he won the NL Cy Young Award.
Even with Burnett's pitching Saturday's game was a bit of a home run derby, as the Pirates belted four long balls hit in the game. Pedro Alvarez hit a pair and Casey McGehee and Alex Presley each went deep as well for Pittsburgh.
"It's just what happens some times," said McGehee of the Pirates' offensive eruption. "I think it's just the product of just trying to take what the pitcher gives you.
Asdrubal Cabrera and Casey Kotchman each hit solo home runs for Cleveland. Michael Brantley went 0-for-3 in the game as his major league leading 22-game hit streak came to an end.
Ubaldo Jimenez took the loss for the Indians after getting tagged for four runs on seven hits over six innings of work.
"I didn't think it was bad," said Jimenez about his start. "I was able to compete out there. I only made one mistake with a slider all day and they made me pay for it."
In Sunday's series finale Cleveland starter Jeanmar Gomez will be trying to match a career-high for wins in a season.
Gomez is in just his third year in the majors and the first as a full-time starter. In the previous two seasons Gomez has made a combined 22 starts and had a record of 9-8 in that span including a 5-3 mark a season ago.
In his last start Gomez had an opportunity to get his fifth win, but he failed to get there despite a decent outing. Gomez allowed two runs, one of which was unearned, on six hits over five innings but the Indians were unable to get anything going offensively in a 7-1 loss to Cincinnati.
Although he lost, the start was still a bit of a success for Gomez who had allowed five or more runs in each of his previous three starts.
His overall record of 4-5 ranks him third in wins for the Indians and his 4.71 ERA is third among pitchers who have made at least nine starts this season.
Gomez had not made a start against an NL team coming into this season but has definitely enjoyed doing so through his first two starts. Although he has split the two decisions he has a stellar 0.79 ERA in those two starts. This will be his first start against Pittsburgh and second against an NL Central opponent.
The Pirates are still trying to figure out their rotation and will yet again give Brad Lincoln a try in Sunday's series conclusion.
Lincoln has made 16 appearances for the Pirates this season, including three starts, two of which have come in the last two outings. The 27-year-old has been a workhorse for the Pirates pitching staff this season leading the bullpen in innings pitched (34 1/3) while filling in as a spot starter when needed.
This is Lincoln's first season as a full-time pitcher in the majors as he made just 23 appearances in the two previous seasons. Overall Lincoln has been solid with a 3-2 record and a 3.15 ERA so far this season but as a starter he has not been as successful.
After going six strong innings in his first start of the season in mid-May, Lincoln has allowed nine runs over 8 1/3 innings of work in his last two starts inflating his ERA by over two runs. In his most recent start he took his second loss of the season after giving up four runs on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings of work.
That loss came against the Baltimore Orioles and was Lincoln's first career interleague start. This will be his fourth overall interleague appearance where he has a career 6.00 ERA.
The Indians swept the Pirates last season.