Major League Baseball

Pirates take aim at Padres in quest of rare sweep

PADRES (38-39) AT PIRATES (35-40)
1:35 p.m. ET; ATTSN-PT, FSSD, MLB.TV

You have to go back to the second week of the season to find a series sweep of at least three games by the Pittsburgh Pirates. They’ll go for another one Sunday against the visiting San Diego Padres after winning the first two games of a weekend set.

Pittsburgh has won three in a row and five of seven, but there’s no overconfidence. After all, before that, the Pirates lost seven in a row.

“Go home, enjoy it, wash it off, then come to work (Sunday),” Pittsburgh second baseman Adam Frazier, whose two-run double in the eighth inning provided the winning runs Saturday, told AT&T Sportsnet.

Both games in the series have been close – 2-1 Friday, then a 6-3 game that was tied 2-2 going into the eighth on Saturday.

The Pirates have tamed a potent Padres offense through two games, holding them to four runs and 11 hits. San Diego had won four straight coming in.

“They’ve really turned it on the past two days,” Frazier said of Pittsburgh’s pitching. “A lot of good hitters on their side. It’s a testament to our guys doing what they’re doing. We’re just trying to come up with a couple runs and come out on top.”

San Diego’s Joey Lucchesi (6-4, 3.74 ERA) is scheduled to face Pittsburgh’s Steven Brault (3-1, 4.40 ERA) in the series finale.

Lucchesi, in his second big league season, has become more and more reliable. He has pitched at least six innings in five of his past six starts.

In his last start Monday, he pitched seven shutout innings, allowing just three hits with five strikeouts in the Padres’ 2-0 win over Milwaukee.

“My hard work’s paying off,” said Lucchesi, who has changed his workout routine and added a cut fastball to his repertoire.

“The intent is just better,” San Diego pitching coach Darren Balsley told “He knows what makes him pitch well. He knows the major league game, major league hitters. He’s just developed more confidence. A lot of it is credit to the hard work he put in during the offseason and now every day during the season.”

Lucchesi is 1-1 with a 1.50 ERA in two career starts against Pittsburgh.

Brault has struggled most of his time with the Pirates to earn a spot in the rotation – or even a spot on the big league team.

But now, with Pittsburgh dealing with injuries to starters, he has come through.
Over his past four starts, totaling 21 2/3 innings, he has given up four runs and has a 1.25 ERA.

His last time out, Brault pitched six innings of a Pittsburgh shutout win June 14 at Miami that ended the team’s seven-game losing streak. He added two hits, including a double, and appreciates the offense the Pirates have provided even while the pitchers have struggled at times.

“It’s awesome. We’ve been seeing it happen this entire year,” said Brault, enough of an athlete that he was used as a pinch-runner and scored in Friday’s game.

“When we were on that losing streak, let’s be honest, it was mostly the pitching’s fault. We weren’t able to get ahead early, we were falling behind, so our guys were always having to come back. They’ve been scoring runs. Our offense has been incredible.”

Brault has never started against San Diego. He is 1-0 with a 5.68 ERA in four career relief appearances.

–Field Level Media

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