Pittsburgh Pirates (57-50) at Arizona Diamondbacks (47-61)
Thursday, July 31 - 9:40 PM EST
Chase Field, Phoenix, Arizona
The Pittsburgh Pirates will wind up a 10-game road trip when they open a four-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday night. Some baserunning follies helped end a three-game winning streak for Pittsburgh, which is 8-4 since the All-Star break and trails first-place Milwaukee by two games in the National League Central. The Pirates, who ended a 20-year playoff drought in 2013, are reportedly among the teams pursuing Boston left-hander Jon Lester.
Josh Harrison has homered in four straight games for Pittsburgh and appears to have supplanted third baseman Pedro Alvarez, who has cranked out 66 homers in 2012-13. "It's pretty simple at the end of the day: He's not outplaying Harrison," manager Clint Hurdle said of Alvarez. "We need to pay attention to the whole team." The Diamondbacks went 3-3 on their six-game road trip to improve to 7-5 since the All-Star break as they prepare to open a 10-game homestand.
TV: 9:40 p.m. ET, ROOT (Pittsburgh), FSN Arizona
PITCHING MATCHUP: Pirates LH Jeff Locke (2-2, 3.54 ERA) vs. Diamondbacks RH Josh Collmenter (8-5, 4.03)
Locke will look to bounce back from his worst outing since his recall from Triple-A Indianapolis in early June, when he was shelled for six runs on 10 hits in Colorado on Saturday. That halted a string of eight consecutive quality starts for Locke, who allowed a total of 15 earned runs in that span. Locke is 0-1 with a 6.92 in three appearances (two starts) versus Arizona and has been tormented by Paul Goldschmidt (4-for-6).
Collmenter is also coming off a disastrous performance that saw him last only 2 2/3 innings and give up six runs on 11 hits in a loss at Philadelphia on Saturday. That outing followed back-to-back starts in which Collmenter allowed one run over seven innings. Collmenter has pitched decidedly better at home, posting a 6-2 record with a 2.94 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in 14 appearances (10 starts).
1. Goldschmidt was 7-for-11 with two doubles and a triple in a three-game set at Pittsburgh from July 1-3.
2. Harrison tied a franchise record set by Barry Bonds in 1987 by homering out of the leadoff slot in four straight games.
3. Diamondbacks 3B Eric Chavez, sidelined since early June with a knee injury, announced his retirement Wednesday.
PREDICTION: Diamondbacks 4, Pirates 3