The Pittsburgh Pirates eye their first series win at home in more than a month on Sunday when they play the rubber match of a three-game set against the Milwaukee Brewers at PNC Park.
Pittsburgh, which is vying for its first winning season since 1992, earned a much-needed victory on Saturday, as Jeff Karstens pitched into the eighth inning and the Pirates won, 4-0.
Karstens (5-3) gave up seven hits and struck out four, but left in the eighth inning with a groin injury after giving up a pair of singles to start the frame.
"He had some great location and command with his pitches tonight," said Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle about Karstens. "He was able to keep most of them in check before leaving and I don't have any update on the injury."
Jose Tabata, Travis Snider, Michael McKenry and Karstens each drove in a run for the playoff-contending Pirates, who snapped a four-game losing streak.
Pittsburgh is now 10 games over .500, but more importantly is one game back of the final playoff spot in the National League. The Pirates' recent struggles, though, have dropped them eight back in the NL Central.
"The numbers changed dramatically from two weeks ago, but we're not lowering the bar from our intent to win the division," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We want to play well, win as many as we can, where that takes us, time will tell. The intent and desire and the focus is not going to change as long as I'm here."
Shaun Marcum (5-4) pitched for the first time in over two months and gave up four unearned runs on five hits with a walk and five strikeouts over five innings for the Brewers, who had a four-game winning streak stopped. Aramis Ramirez had three of Milwaukee's nine hits.
"I got a little tired there in the fifth inning, but other than that I felt pretty good," Marcum said.
Heading to the hill for the Pirates on Sunday will be veteran left-hander Erik Bedard, who is 7-13 with a 4.76 ERA. Bedard hasn't pitched since Aug. 18 when had a two-start winning streak stopped in St. Louis. He gave up five runs in 4 2/3 innings of that one.
He should get himself righted at home, where he has pitched to a 2.63 ERA in 11 starts.
Bedard lost to the Brewers back on June 23 in his only other meeting against them, yielding five runs in 3 2/3 innings.
The Brewers, meanwhile, will rely on righty Mark Rogers, who picked up his first major league win his last time out. Rogers beat the Chicago Cubs on Monday, limiting them to a three runs and five hits in five innings, as he improved to 1-1 to go along with a 5.02 ERA.
There is a good chance that Rogers gets shut down for the season after Sunday's start. He has thrown 124 innings between Milwaukee and Triple-A Nashville after throwing just 44 1/3 innings last year following wrist surgery.
"I don't know exactly how much longer they're going to let me pitch," Rogers said after his last start. "I still feel great, and I want to keep it that way. Unfortunately, that's out of my control, but I'm going to keep doing everything I can to prepare to pitch."
The Brewers and Pirates split six meetings prior to this series. Milwaukee had won 25 of the 33 encounters from 2010-11.