The Pittsburgh Pirates don’t wilt late in close games, and neither have they folded in what is shaping up to be an exciting National League Central race. The Pirates pulled within 2 1/2 games of division-leading Cincinnati on Wednesday, earning their major league-best 24th one-run win, and they’ll try to wrap up a series victory when their four-game set with the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks concludes.
Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez, acquired last month from Houston, will make his first home start for Pittsburgh. He is 3-5 with a 4.45 ERA in 10 starts at PNC Park. The Pirates have won 22 of their last 27 home games, including two of three in this series. The Diamondbacks have lost four of five to drop five games behind San Francisco in the NL West.
Diamondbacks Pirates Betting
When: 4:05 PM ET, Thursday, August 9, 2012
Where: PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
TV: 4:05 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Arizona, ROOT Sports
PITCHING MATCHUP: Diamondbacks LH Joe Saunders (5-8, 3.57 ERA) vs. Pirates LH Wandy Rodriguez (7-10, 3.82)
Saunders has lasted at least six innings in 15 of his 18 starts this season, including eight straight. He has lost four of his last five decisions, though, most recently coming out on the wrong end of a 3-0 loss Saturday at Philadelphia despite allowing just two runs over 6 1/3 innings. Saunders shut down the Pirates on April 16 in Arizona, holding them to one run over seven innings in a 5-1 win. He is 1-0 with a 3.46 ERA in two starts against Pittsburgh.
Rodriguez is still looking for his first win with the Pirates as he makes his third start since coming over from Houston. The lefty hasn’t won at all since July 7, and he’s lost six of his last seven decisions. He has, however, turned in three straight quality starts and held Cincinnati to three runs over seven innings in a 3-0 loss Friday. Rodriguez is 3-5 with a 5.40 ERA in eight starts against Arizona.
1. Pittsburgh is 54-1 when leading after seven innings, and closer Joel Hanrahan leads the National League with 33 saves.
2. Diamondbacks 3B Chris Johnson has at least one RBI in seven of his nine games since being acquired from Houston.
3. Pirates 2B Neil Walker, who matched a career high with five RBIs on Wednesday, has hit nine of his 13 homers since July 2. He is 38-for-112 (.339) with 31 RBIs during that stretch.