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|10:35 AM PT11:35 AM MT12:35 PM CT1:35 PM ET13:35 ET17:35 GMT1:35 10:35 AM MST12:35 PM EST1:05 PM VEN21:35 UAE12:35 PM CT, July 2, 2017
PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Attendance: 32,144
Pirates look to avoid sweep versus Giants
San Francisco Giants at Pittsburgh Pirates
- This will be the first meeting between the Giants and the Pirates in 2017. San Francisco is 2-7-1 (.250) in series against Pittsburgh since 2012, its second-lowest win percentage against any single opponent (minimum 5 series; Washington, 2-8-1).
- The Giants have improved their batting average from .226 in May to .274 in June, which is the largest improvement (+.048) in MLB (ranked 28th in May and now rank ninth in June).
- Johnny Cueto is 19-4 (.826) in his career against the Pirates, the second-best record (minimum 20 decisions) by an active pitcher against any single opponent (David Price, 17-3 versus Toronto).
- Gerrit Cole has a career record of 14-5 (.737) versus the NL West, which is tied (Tom Koehler) for the second-best win percentage (minimum 15 decisions) by an active pitcher against that division (Ryan Madson, 13-3).
- Buster Posey is one of two players in MLB (Justin Turner, LAD) that has had a .325 or better batting average in each month this season (minimum 25 plate appearances each month). Posey's .337 batting average in June ranks second in MLB among qualifying catchers (Salvador Perez, KC - .350).
- Andrew McCutchen has a .380 batting average this season when batting sixth, the highest in MLB among qualifying players. McCutchen has batted third in his last three games, where he has a .218 batting average for the season, the fourth lowest in MLB among qualifying players.
- Strasburg mulls skipping All-Star games
- Kemp rejoins Dodgers, Gonzalez to Braves
- Yanks keep Sabathia on 1-year, $10M deal
- Nats 2B Murphy hopeful of playing opener
- Padres sign RHP Lyles, designate P Wood
PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Pirates can only hope to start the second half of their season a little better than they ended the first.
The Pirates (37-44) have lost two games in a row to San Francisco (32-51), one of the worst teams in the National League but one that has matched a season high with a five-game winning streak.
Despite being below .500, the Pirates are not dead in the water in the NL Central, where they trail leader Milwaukee by six games.
But it seems that when Pittsburgh is hitting, its pitching fails it. And when the pitching is holding up, the Pirates can't score.
"We left 15 on base," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle noted of his team's 2-1, 11-inning loss Saturday. "We put them out there every inning, just about. At the end of the day, it's all about scoring runs. We worked to get out there, but we weren't able to get them in."
The Giants seem to be thriving without the stress of a hint of a playoff chase.
"I just think everybody's going to play ball," pitcher Hunter Strickland said. "We're having a good time, just going out there having fun."
As it goes for a sweep Sunday at PNC Park, San Francisco is scheduled to start Jeff Samardzija (3-9 ,4.63 ERA). He is among the leaders in losses in the National League, which means he's among the most snakebit. In 11 starts since May 1, he struck out 82 and walked 11 in 73 innings.
Samardzija's run support was only 3.19 per game, among the lowest in the major leagues, before he and the Giants broke out Monday in a 9-2 victory against Colorado.
Samardzija in that game allowed two runs on six hits over 6 2/3 innings, with five strikeouts and no walks. He got a standing ovation by the home crowd when he left in the seventh. That game ended a five-game losing streak and started the current winning streak.
Samardzija, who is 4-4 with a 2.90 ERA in 23 games (12 starts) versus Pittsburgh, is part of a Giants movement to pile up some wins despite a poor record.
"We've got a lot of pride in this clubhouse, and a lot of guys want to win ballgames regardless of the situation," Samardzija said. "Every day is important. We've got to come out and have some fun and enjoy playing this game and go back to finding why we play this game."
Pittsburgh scheduled starter Trevor Williams (3-3, 4.82 ERA), who has never faced San Francisco, is coming off a no-decision Tuesday in which he probably pitched well enough to win but got outdueled by Tampa Bay's Alex Cobb.
Williams pitched seven-plus innings in the Pirates' 4-2 loss in 10 innings. He allowed two runs on six hits, walked none and matched his career high with seven strikeouts.
Williams began the season in the bullpen after losing the sweepstakes foe the final starting spot out of spring. He took over that spot, however, when Tyler Glasnow struggled and Sunday will be making his 11th start of the season.
Williams, 25, who relies on a four-pitch mix, is proving a considerably better fit in the rotation than Glasnow. In his past nine starts, Williams is 2-1 with a 3.91 ERA, giving up 22 earned runs in 50 2/3 innings.
He credits his experience joining Pittsburgh last September and watching Pirates starters Ivan Nova and Gerrit Cole.
"It's just watching the veterans do it every fifth day. It's awesome to see Nova and Gerrit go out there every fifth day and do what they do," Williams said. "There's a lot of veterans in this clubhouse. It's fun to watch them do what they do.
"The experience I got last year in September is invaluable. Nothing beats experience, whether it's learning up here and having success and failure up here. It's really anything up here. It's a little more magnified, it's a little more glorified when you have failure. The successes are also there."
Updated July 1, 2017