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National League Preview from The Sports Network

Wednesday, July 18th (All times eastern)

Pittsburgh Pirates (50-40) at Colorado Rockies (35-55), 3:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Pittsburgh - James McDonald (9-3, 2.59) Colorado - Jeremy Guthrie (3-9, 6.14)

(Sports Network) - The Pittsburgh Pirates can grab another series win when they play the rubber match of a three-game set against the Colorado Rockies this afternoon at Coors Field.

The Pirates captured their 50th win of the season with last night's 6-2 triumph over the Rockies behind the red-hot Andrew McCutchen, who homered and scored a pair of runs. McCutchen is batting .500 with nine homers, 19 RBI and 24 runs in his last 16 games. Pittsburgh is 12-4 in that stretch. McCutchen has homered six times in his last six games.

"He's doing things that are impressive. He's found a stroke with which he is in a good place. It's been fun to watch," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told the club's website.

Michael McKenry had two hits and an RBI, while Neil Walker finished 2-for-3 with a run scored to extend his hitting streak to 17 games -- one off his career best established in 2010. Walker is batting .485 with three home runs, 14 RBI, 20 runs and 32 hits during his streak.

Erik Bedard got back into the win column by holding Colorado to two runs, one of which was earned, in 6 2/3 innings. Joel Hanrahan later notched his 25th save by getting the final out of the game.

The Pirates sit one game behind Cincinnati for the NL Central lead and have won three of their last four series. They will head back to the Steel City after today's game for a six-game homestand versus Miami and the Chicago Cubs.

James McDonald will start for Pittsburgh Wednesday and is 4-0 with a 3.24 earned run average in his last five starts. He luckily avoided a losing decision in Friday's 10-7 setback at Milwaukee and was hammered for five runs -- four earned -- and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings. McDonald is 9-3 in 18 starts to go along with a 2.59 ERA.

McDonald, a right-hander, threw seven innings of one-run ball and struck out eight Colorado batters in a 2-1 loss back on April 25 for the no-decision. In eight career games (5 starts) against the Rockies, he is 3-1 with a 3.45 ERA.

Colorado hopes to come away with a series today even though the club lost for the ninth time in 14 tries last night.

Rockies young hurler Christian Friedrich was banged around for five runs and six hits in 4 2/3 frames to absorb the loss. He was tagged for four runs in the fifth inning.

"We stranded 13 runners. The other thing that hurt was the fifth inning. The big mistakes there were the back-to-back walks to set the stage for the inning," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said.

Marco Scutaro, Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez had two hits apiece for Colorado's meager offense.

The Rockies, who will visit San Diego and Arizona after Wednesday's matinee, are scheduled to pin pitching duties on Jeremy Guthrie today. Guthrie hasn't won since May 31 versus Houston and sports a 3-9 record to go along with a 6.14 earned run average in 18 games (14 starts) this season. Guthrie allowed four runs in 4 2/3 innings of an 8-5 loss to Philadelphia on Saturday.

Guthrie is only 1-5 at Coors Field this season and lost his only career start against the Pirates last June 21.

Colorado dropped two of three meetings with Pittsburgh at PNC Park in April.

07/18 10:31:10 ET