(Sports Network) - An important NL Central battle is on tap Friday, as the
Pittsburgh Pirates open a three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals at
The Pirates are just 1 1/2 games ahead of the Cardinals in the division, but
failed to increase that lead on Thursday, as they were denied a three-game
sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers with Wednesday's 9-3 loss at Miller Park.
Francisco Liriano was hammered in his three innings of work and allowed seven
runs and seven hits. Andrew McCutchen homered and newcomer Marlon Byrd added
three hits and an RBI for the Pirates, who had won five of seven games.
"Just missing my spots, And you have to give credit to the hitters; they were
taking pretty good swings," Liriano said afterward.
Pittsburgh will also visit Texas on its current road trip and hopes A.J.
Burnett can pitch the club back into the win column. Burnett is 7-9 with a
3.09 earned run average in 25 starts and threw seven innings of one-run ball
in last Saturday's 7-1 win over the Cardinals.
Burnett, a right-hander, is 8-5 with a 3.79 ERA in 16 career starts against
St. Louis, meanwhile, will kick off a nine-game homestand Friday versus the
Pirates, Brewers and Mariners, and enters having lost six of eight games.
In Thursday's 6-2 loss at Cincinnati in the finale of a four-game set, Lance
Lynn was dealt the loss for giving up four runs in five innings.
"If you look at the game overall, I made three bad pitches that they hit for
three home runs," Lynn said. "That usually doesn't happen. You take away those
three pitches, and it's a totally different ballgame."
David Freese homered in the loss for the Cardinals, who currently lead the NL
wild card race.
Joe Kelly gets the start for St. Louis and is 7-3 with a 3.20 earned run
average in 32 games (11 starts) this season. Kelly hasn't lost since June 5
and is 7-0 with a 1.72 ERA in his last nine starts. The Cardinals are 8-1 in
Kelly has faced the Pirates seven times (3 starts) in his career and is 2-2
with a 3.81 ERA.
Pittsburgh is 10-6 against the Cardinals this season.
The Sports Network