Pirates carry momentum into series vs. Rockies

ROCKIES (20-25) AT PIRATES (24-20)

Bolstered by a successful road trip, the Pittsburgh Pirates return home to PNC Park on Tuesday to open a three-game series against the Colorado Rockies.

The Pirates went 7-4 in St. Louis, Arizona and San Diego despite having to cobble together a starting rotation and even going with an opener for the first time — on top of having a couple of rookies now occupying spots in the bullpen.

Pittsburgh won three of four against the Padres on the last stop of the tour.

“It was a very strong finish,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told reporters of the trip. “I’m proud of the effort. I’m proud of the energy. The offense is starting to do some things that are significant as well. It was a fun trip for us. It was a good baseball trip.”

The homestand features the Rockies and three games against the Dodgers.

“It’s been a long trip, one of the longer ones we’ve taken since I’ve been here,” Hurdle said. “Going home will be good. … Two good teams coming in. Should be some good baseball.”

Injuries have ravaged Pittsburgh’s pitchers. Right-hander Chris Archer (1-3, 5.58 ERA), who will face Colorado right-hander German Marquez (4-2, 3.80) Tuesday, has spent time on the injured list and has had some ineffective outings.

In his first game off the IL, Archer gave up seven runs (six earned) in 3 2/3 innings Wednesday in one of Pittsburgh’s four losses on the road trip, 11-1 at Arizona.

Though he has lost his last three starts, Archer is 2-0 with a 3.27 ERA in two career starts against Colorado.

The Rockies might be getting a bit of a break with the Pirates’ pitching challenges.

Colorado is 1-4 on its current road trip and has lost four straight — including a three-game sweep at the hands of Philadelphia. Strong opposing pitching has been a theme on the trip.

In 48 innings, the Rockies have struck out 66 times against the likes of Boston’s Chris Sale and the Phillies’ Aaron Nola and Jerad Eickhoff.

Trevor Story, who had one of four Colorado homers Sunday in a 7-5 loss at Philadelphia, doesn’t want to give too much credit to opposing teams, though.

“I’d say it’s more so us,” Story told the team’s website. “It was the first time facing Sale, so that was a little different, but we’ve faced Nola and these guys a lot, and played well. It’s not like we just can’t hit them or anything, but we haven’t played to our standard offensively, so it’s frustrating.

“It’s not for lack of preparation or effort. We’re just not executing right now.”

Charlie Blackmon, who also homered Sunday, pointed to the fact that the Rockies have been in each game this trip. All five games have been decided by one or two runs.

“I think it’s good for us,” Blackmon told the Rockies’ website. “If we could win a couple of those key at-bats over the past few days, we pick up a couple extra wins. We’re putting ourselves in position. We’re just not quite finishing it off.”

Marquez will be making his sixth start on the road, where he has a 2.55 ERA.

In four career starts against the Pirates, he is 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA and 27 strikeouts. That includes going 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA in two starts at PNC Park.

–Field Level Media

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