Pirates eye rare series win in Philadelphia

It's been 10 years since the Pittsburgh Pirates won a road series against the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Pirates can end their lengthy drought in the City of Brotherly Love with a win when the two clubs finish a four-game series Thursday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.

Pittsburgh last took a series at Philadelphia from April 4-6, 2003, when the Phillies called Veterans Stadium home. The Pirates lost the opener of this series on Monday, but have responded with back-to-back victories, including Wednesday's 5-3 come-from-behind triumph.

Phillies ace Roy Halladay was cruising to the tune of one run in six innings with eight strikeouts, but the bullpen imploded and Pittsburgh took advantage. Trailing 3-1 heading into the top of the seventh, Pedro Alvarez hit a solo homer to make it interesting. Travis Snider and Brandon Inge each had an RBI single in the eighth and Starling Marte's run-scoring triple in the ninth capped the scoring.

Alvarez ended with two RBI and Pirates starter Wandy Rodriguez registered a no-decision with 5 2/3 innings of three-run ball. He also allowed nine hits, including a pair of home runs to Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.

"Today I didn't have my best stuff, but I tried to compete," Rodriguez said. "I tried to hold it together to a run or two. I made three mistakes, and they scored three runs. I had a couple of mistakes with my location. Like I said, I was just competing."

Vin Mazzaro earned the win with 1 1/3 scoreless frames and Jason Grilli struck out one in the ninth for his ninth save.

The Pirates have won 11 of their last 15 games and still have St. Louis and Minnesota to visit on this current road trip. Toeing the rubber for the Pirates Thursday will be James McDonald, who won his last outing on Saturday versus Atlanta with six strong innings. He gave up a run and fanned a season high nine batters to push his record to 2-2 in four starts with a 4.12 ERA.

McDonald is 1-2 with a 5.73 ERA in six games (4 starts) lifetime against the Phillies.

Philadelphia looks for a series a split Thursday in the finale of an eight- game homestand. The Phillies have lost two in a row and seven of their last 10 games, and wasted a golden opportunity from Halladay.

"To me, it seemed like two different games, because we did so many things well early in the game," said Halladay. "Then, later in the game, we didn't do the things we did earlier."

Mike Adams was saddled with the loss for giving up two runs in the seventh inning. Antonio Bastardo gave up Alvarez's homer in the seventh.

"I was just flat-out bad," Adams said.

Jimmy Rollins, Domonic Brown and Utley finished with two hits apiece in defeat.

The Phillies, who are scheduled to start a five-game road trip Friday against the New York Mets, have another ace in the hole for Thursday. Cliff Lee takes the ball for the Phils in hopes of earning a split with the Buccos and is coming off his worst outing of the season, a 5-0 loss versus St. Louis on Saturday. Lee allowed a season-high five runs in a season-low five innings.

Lee had lasted at least seven innings in each of his first three starts and is 2-1 with a 2.83 ERA. The left-hander has made three career starts against the Pirates and has a 1-0 record and a 3.05 ERA to show for it.

Pittsburgh won four of seven matchups with the Phillies a season ago.