(Sports Network) - Should the Pittsburgh Pirates make a run to the World
Series, they could have a mental edge over whatever American League opponent
is waiting for them.
The Pirates look to sweep the Texas Rangers for the first time in franchise
history as the clubs wrap a three-game set on Wednesday afternoon.
Pittsburgh has won 11 of its last 13 interleague games and is 14-5 versus the
American League this season, tops in the majors. Wednesday's finale marks the
Pirates final interleague contest of the season.
Pittsburgh also had been swept in three of its four all-time series with
Texas, including three-game sets in Arlington in 2004 and 2010. However, the
Pirates have won a pair of one-run games to open this encounter, holding off a
late rally to win 5-4 on Tuesday.
Andrew McCutchen's third RBI of the game in the top of the ninth gave the
Pirates a three-run edge and Mark Melancon opened up the bottom of the frame
by striking out the first two batters faced. However, he then yielded four
straight singles, with base hits by Ian Kinsler and Alex Rios bringing home
Adrian Beltre then came to the plate with the tying run on third, but chased a
high fastball to go down swinging and end the game.
"At the end of the day, he struck out the side, with a little action in
between," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Melancon.
Pittsburgh, which had lost four in a row ahead of this series, remained a game
back of the St. Louis Cardinals for first place in the NL Central, while Texas
is two games behind Oakland for the top spot in the AL West.
The Rangers have lost seven of nine in September after going 20-7 last month
and saw starter Martin Perez have his six-start win streak snapped after
allowing four runs over five-plus innings.
"We grinded all night, it was just a matter of getting a base hit in the right
situation," Texas manager Ron Washington said.
The Rangers have lost a season high-tying four straight series and host the
Athletics for three games this weekend after an off day on Thursday.
Chasing his ninth straight season of double-digit wins, A.J. Burnett takes the
mound today for the Pirates. He is 7-10 with a 3.31 earned run average in 26
starts this year, but has allowed four runs or more in four of his last six
The veteran righty is coming off a 12-8 setback at St. Louis on Friday, when
he lasted a season-low three innings. Burnett was charged with five runs on
six hits and one walk.
"I felt like I could have stayed out there longer and kept us in it, but
that's not my choice, not my decision," Burnett said.
The 36-year-old has a 2.70 ERA in three interleague starts this season and is
4-3 lifetime versus the Rangers with a 3.66 ERA.
The Rangers counter with right-hander Matt Garza, who is 3-3 with a 4.31 ERA
in nine starts since getting dealt from the Chicago Cubs to Texas.
Garza has yielded at least four runs in six of his last seven outings and gave
up six runs -- five earned -- over seven frames of a defeat to the Los Angeles
Angels of Anaheim on Friday. The big blow was a three-run homer off the bat of
Mark Trumbo in the fourth inning as Garza allowed the most runs in a game
since the mid-July trade.
"I threw a lot of strikes and got ahead of most hitters, I made one bad
pitch," said Garza, who retired the final eight batters he faced in order. "I
left one over the plate and Trumbo knew what to do with it."
The 29-year-old is 9-4 with a 3.70 ERA in 20 total starts this season and 1-1
lifetime versus the Pirates with a 3.00 ERA.
The Sports Network