The Pittsburgh Pirates will enter July with at least 50 wins for the first time in franchise history.
Charlie Morton hopes to make it victory No. 51 today when the Pirates go after their ninth straight win in the conclusion of a three-game set against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Pittsburgh's 2-1 win last night represents their longest victory streak since taking 10 straight June 26 - July 5, 2004. They're the first team to reach 50 wins on the season, and today can continue their recent success when facing the Brewers.
The Pirates lead the season series, 8-4, and have wins in seven of the last eight encounters.
"We're trying to create a new atmosphere and a new environment," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We've made some improvements the last couple of years. We feel we have a good competitive team this year, but again it's a long road to travel."
To extend the streak against Milwaukee and the overall run, Morton will have to accomplish something he's yet to do in his career - beat the Brewers. The right-hander is 0-4 with a 6.67 ERA in six lifetime starts against Milwaukee.
Morton, who began the season on the disabled list recovering from right elbow surgery, didn't get a decision in his most recent start, a 10-9 Pirates win in 10 innings a week ago in Anaheim. Morton gave up four hits and six runs -- three earned -- in 5 2/3 innings.
While Morton has struggled against the Brewers, Kyle Lohse, today's pitcher for Milwaukee, has thrived versus the Pirates. The right-hander is 9-2 with a 3.41 ERA in 18 games (17 starts) when facing Pittsburgh. He didn't get a decision in his only start against the Buccos this season on May 14 at PNC Park, as the Brewers suffered a 4-3 loss in 12 innings.
Lohse is 2-0 over his last five starts overall and hasn't lost since exactly one month ago at Minnesota.
Francisco Liriano pitched six strong innings last night for Pittsburgh. Liriano (7-3) won for a fourth time in his past five starts as he gave up just one run on seven hits with a walk and six strikeouts.
Garrett Jones and Pedro Alvarez each hit a home run. Alvarez has a career-best 12-game hitting streak.
Yuniesky Betancourt drove in the only run of the game for the Brewers, who have dropped their past four games. Donovan Hand (0-1) suffered the first loss of his career as he gave up two runs on five hits with two strikeouts in five innings.
"There's no doubt we're short, but this is what we have right now," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said.