When the Pittsburgh Pirates visit the Washington Nationals for a three-game series starting Monday, they will confront an old friend on a hot streak.
Former Pirate Josh Bell went 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored in the Nationals' 6-4 win over the Texas Rangers on Sunday. Over his past 10 games, Bell is hitting .429 (15-for-35) with four home runs, eight RBIs and eight runs scored.
Bell, a free agent at the end of the season, will likely be sent to a contender at the trade deadline. But for now, he'll continue to rake for Washington.
"When I'm good, when I'm feeling right, good things happen. I think that goes for everybody," said Bell, who has raised his average from .290 to .308 during the hot streak. "Right now, I'm feeling really good. ... I'm definitely happy to be locked in."
Bell, who spent his first five seasons with the Pirates, is 11-for-29 (.379) with two homers and seven RBIs in nine games versus his former team.
Rookie Jackson Tetreault allowed one run in six-plus innings and Nelson Cruz had three RBIs for Washington, which took two of three in Texas and has won four of six overall.
The Nationals will send right-hander Erick Fedde (5-5, 4.46 ERA) against Pittsburgh in the opener. The Pirates have not yet named a starter.
Fedde, who has never faced Pittsburgh, has won two of his past three starts and last time out tossed six shutout innings against the Orioles. He allowed two hits and a walk while striking out four and threw 97 pitches.
The Nationals have worked to get Fedde to finish hitters off rather than nibbling the corners and raising his pitch count. He recently threw 111 pitches in 5 1/3 innings of a loss to the Braves.
"He throws a lot of non-competitive pitches with two strikes, and like I said, guys at this level, they're not going to chase those kind of pitches," manager Dave Martinez said after the game against Baltimore.
The Pirates will be happy to put Tampa Bay in their rearview mirror. After walk-off losses on Friday and Saturday, the Rays broke open a 1-1 game in the seventh for a 4-2 win on Sunday.
Pittsburgh fell to 8-16 in June, including 4-13 in games decided by one or two runs.
The Pirates were not able to capitalize on a strong start from rookie Roansy Contreras, who gave up one run on four hits and five walks in five innings while striking out four.
"We played well enough to win all three games, and we didn't win any of the games," Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. "The solace is that's a really good team. We have to figure out a way to close those games out. That's one of the development things for young players."
Tampa Bay's Randy Arozarena was called out attempting to steal with the score tied 1-1 in the seventh. The call was overturned after a video review and the Rays went on to score three runs.
Daniel Vogelbach hit a pinch-hit solo homer for the Pirates. Third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes was 1-for-4 in his return after missing two games due to shoulder soreness.
--Field Level Media