MIAMI (SportsDirect Inc.) — The Pittsburgh Pirates scored one run fewer in the last two games than they totaled in the previous eight, and the explosion in offense is putting the team back in the win column.
The Pirates will try to make it three straight victories when they visit the Miami Marlins for the second of a three-game series on Saturday.
Josh Harrison’s return to the leadoff spot provided a spark to the Pittsburgh offense in a 6-5 win over the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday, and he continued to rake with three hits, two RBIs and a run scored in Friday’s series-opening 12-2 triumph.
The Pirates pounded out 18 hits in the win and got a 3-for-3 effort with a triple from rookie infielder Gift Ngoepe, who became the first African-born major leaguer on Wednesday and made his first start on Friday.
The Marlins are trending in the opposite direction with three straight losses and will need some length on Saturday from starter Dan Straily after Adam Conley was knocked out in the second inning on Friday. The Pirates will counter with righty Ivan Nova.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, ROOT (Pittsburgh), FSN Florida (Miami)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Pirates RH Ivan Nova (2-2, 2.00 ERA) vs. Marlins RH Dan Straily (1-1, 3.92)
Nova had trouble getting run support in back-to-back losses but received just enough to earn a win over his former team on Sunday, when he allowed one run and four hits in seven innings to beat the New York Yankees in a 2-1 final. The Dominican Republic native was on the losing end of a 2-1 final in his previous start, surrendering two runs and five hits over eight innings at St. Louis on April 17. Nova spent the first 6 1/2 seasons of his career in the American League and is making his first career start against Pittsburgh.
Straily showed off dominant stuff at San Diego last Saturday, striking out a career-high 14 without walking a batter, but did not factor in the decision in a game the Marlins went on to win 6-3 in extra innings. The 28-year-old was held out of the decision in his previous outing as well despite tossing 5 1/3 hitless innings against the New York Mets. Straily made six appearances – five starts – against Pittsburgh as a member of the Cincinnati Reds last season and went 2-2 with a 3.38 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 32 innings.
1. Marlins OF Christian Yelich went 4-for-5 on Friday to mark his sixth multi-hit performance in the last nine contests.
2. Pirates 3B David Freese (hamstring) sat out the last three games and is day-to-day.
3. Pittsburgh rookie 1B Jose Osuna doubled his major-league hit total by going 4-for-5 on Friday.
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