(SportsNetwork.com) - Hoping to avoid their worst start in 54 years, the Philadelphia Phillies turn to ace Cole Hamels on Wednesday night for the third contest of a four-game set with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Hamels gets the call tonight off an excellent outing versus the New York Mets on Friday that resulted in a 3-1 victory for the left-hander. Hamels held the Mets to a run on four hits and a pair of walks over seven innings. He struck out eight batters, giving him 46 through 44 innings this season, and held an opponent to one run or less for the fourth time in seven starts.
The 31-year-old is 2-3 on the year with a 3.68 earned run average and 2-2 lifetime against the Pirates in seven starts with a 2.76 ERA.
Francisco Liriano dominated Philadelphia in a start last season, his first ever against the franchise, and seeks a repeat performance tonight. He took on a hosting Phillies club on Sept. 11 and struck out 12 batters over eight scoreless innings for a 4-1 win.
Liriano, though, is coming off his worst outing of 2015 and it also resulted in his first loss of the season. The lefty was handed an 8-5 defeat by St. Louis on Friday as he was charged with six runs -- five earned -- on six hits and a walk over 6 1/3 innings. Liriano struck out a season-high 10 batters, but also served up a pair of home runs after having not allowed one in three previous starts.
"He paid for his mistakes," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said of Liriano. "The balls that he left in spots, they put the barrel on it."
The 31-year-old allowed more than three runs for the first time this season and fell to 1-2 with a 2.79 ERA.
The Pirates have taken the first two games of this set to drop the Phillies to 11-23 for the first time since 1971. Philadelphia hasn't started a season 11-24 since 1961.
Josh Harrison paced Pittsburgh to a 7-2 victory last night with a three-run homer, while Andrew McCutchen had a two-run shot and Gregory Polanco added a pair of RBI to Pittsburgh's fourth straight win. The Pirates moved a game above .500 at 17-16.
A.J. Burnett, who spent last season with the Phillies, hurled seven innings against his former club and was charged with two runs, one of which was unearned.
Sean O'Sullivan, who was activated from the 15-day disabled list prior to the game, was tagged with the loss after giving up three runs on five hits in five innings of work.
"I feel good," said O'Sullivan. "I think it will be much better next go around and there won't be that bit of anxiousness returning back to the mound after a few weeks."
Ben Revere and Chase Utley each brought in a run during the sixth inning for the Phillies, who have lost four in row and 11 of their past 14.
The Pirates have won eight of nine and 14 of their last 18 versus the Phillies. They are 10-2 in their past 12 trips to Philadelphia.