MIAMI (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – As the first month of the season comes to a close, several National League teams are still trying to find their footing.
The Pittsburgh Pirates continue to lose bodies but they have a chance to reach the .500 mark for the first time in two weeks and post their longest winning streak of the season.
Pittsburgh goes for its fourth consecutive victory and a series sweep when it wraps up a three-game set at the Miami Marlins on Sunday afternoon.
The Pirates scored 65 runs through their first 20 games – the fewest in the National League – but have amassed 22 during the three-game winning streak.
Pittsburgh, already missing the suspended Starling Marte, placed leading hitter David Freese on the disabled list Saturday with a hamstring issues that had sidelined him since Monday.
Miami dropped the final two games of a road trip that spanned 7,200 miles, but returning home has offered no respite as the Marlins have scored two runs in dropping the first two contests of the series.
Right-hander Tom Koehler, who gets the nod Sunday, has never beaten the Pirates in five career starts, posting an 0-4 record and 5.14 ERA while allowing them to bat a collective .303 against him.
TV: 1:10 p.m. ET, ROOT (Pittsburgh), FSN Florida (Miami)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Pirates RH Chad Kuhl (1-2, 6.63 ERA) vs. Marlins RH Tom Koehler (1-1, 5.14)
Kuhl is coming off a beating against the Chicago Cubs, who have hit him hard in four career outings and pounded him for nine runs on eight hits in only 1 2/3 innings last Monday.
The 24-year-old saw his ERA rise by four runs in that game, which followed a pair of quality starts in which he permitted a combined three runs on eight hits on 12 1/3 innings.
Kuhl allowed two earned runs in six innings in his only start versus Miami.
Koehler earned his first victory by limiting San Diego to three runs on six hits over six innings while setting a season high with seven strikeouts last Sunday.
The 30-year-old has struggled keeping the ball in the park, surrendering six homers in his four starts after permitting 22 in each of the past two seasons.
The absence of Freese (3-for-5, two homers) helps, but Gregory Polanco is 5-for-9 against Koehler.
- Pirates SS Jordy Mercer is 5-for-14 during a four-game hitting streak.
- Marlins 3B Martin Prado, who has hit safely in six straight overall, is 5-for-35 in his last nine games versus Pittsburgh.
- Pirates 1B John Jaso hit his first homer and collected his first two RBIs of the season in Saturday’s 4-0 win.
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