The Pittsburgh Pirates are eager to get back to playing the way they were before the All-Star break.
They'd be fine, however, if scheduled starter Erik Bedard didn't pick up from where he left off.
The Pirates, losers of Bedard's last five starts, try to avoid dropping their third in a row Tuesday night against the Colorado Rockies .
Pittsburgh (49-40) finished the season's first half on a 10-2 surge to take a division lead into the break for the first time since 1997. Having dropped three of four since the Midsummer Classic, though, the Pirates are now a game back of NL Central-leading Cincinnati.
Pittsburgh made things interesting Monday after Pedro Alvarez hit a game-tying three-run homer in the ninth inning on the first pitch following a 53-minute rain delay. The Rockies (35-54) didn't flinch, though, and won 5-4 on Dexter Fowler 's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth.
"We knew we were going to put something together," said Fowler, batting .438 in his last eight games.
Andrew McCutchen had a relatively quiet game with a pair of singles, raising his major league-leading average to .372, but his four-game homer streak came to an end. He is batting .556 with seven home runs and 16 RBIs in his last 13 games.
Neil Walker has also been swinging a hot bat, hitting .476 with eight doubles and 14 RBIs during a 16-game hitting streak, but his play has been overshadowed by McCutchen's.
Led by those two, the Pirates have the NL's top offense since June 1 with 216 runs and 58 homers, but Bedard (4-10, 4.80 ERA) hasn't been able to take advantage.
He has an 8.16 ERA in losing his last three starts, and is 0-4 with a 7.99 ERA in his last five since beating Kansas City on June 8. Through 17 starts, the left-hander is already one defeat away from matching his career high, set while playing for Baltimore in 2006, when he made a career-high 33 starts."We'll look at the tape and try to get things figured out over the break," manager Clint Hurdle said after Bedard was knocked around for five runs in 3 2-3 innings of a 6-5 loss to San Francisco on July 6.
While Bedard has had trouble pitching at PNC Park, he has been especially brutal away from Pittsburgh, recording a 9.51 ERA in losing his last five road starts. This will be his first appearance at hitter-friendly Coors Field and first time facing Carlos Gonzalez , who is batting .429 with seven homers, nine doubles and 22 RBIs during a 23-game home hitting streak.
Colorado, which ranks second in the NL in runs with 430 and has scored at least five in three of its four games since the break, will give the ball to Christian Friedrich (5-6, 5.60).
Friedrich gave up a run and five hits while striking out seven in six innings of Friday's 6-2 home victory over Philadelphia, his first win since June 4. Despite going 0-5 with a 7.85 ERA in six starts between victories, he still leads the Rockies in wins.
The rookie left-hander is finally starting to look comfortable at Coors, allowing a run in each of his last two starts there after posting an 11.64 ERA in his first four.
Bedard made his only career start against the Rockies on June 10, 2007, giving up three runs in five innings of a 6-1 loss for the Orioles.
|July 05, 2012||Alex Presley||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|July 05, 2012||Alex Presley||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|June 30, 2012||Andrew McCutchen||Day-to-Day||Left game - sprained left wrist|
|June 25, 2012||Rod Barajas||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised left knee|
|May 30, 2012||Charlie Morton||60-Day DL||Right elbow inflammation|
|May 10, 2012||Daniel McCutchen||15-Day DL||Left oblique strain|
|July 09, 2012||Todd Helton||15-Day DL||Right hip inflammation|
|July 09, 2012||Wil Nieves||15-Day DL||Turf toe, right foot|
|July 04, 2012||Jason Giambi||Day-to-Day||Stiff back|
|June 17, 2012||Carlos Gonzalez||Day-to-Day||Sore right hamstring|
|June 03, 2012||Juan Nicasio||15-Day DL||Strained left knee|
|June 02, 2012||Jordan Pacheco||Day-to-Day||Sore left quadricep|
DENVER (AP) -- Erik Bedard ended his monthlong losing streak by getting better control of his pitches and helped the Pittsburgh Pirates pick up a milestone victory in the process.
Bedard, making his first start in 11 days, pitched effectively into the seventh inning, Andrew McCutchen homered, and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Colorado Rockies 6-2 on Tuesday night to become the fifth team with at least 50 wins.
The Pirates joined the New York Yankees (56), Texas Rangers (54), Washington Nationals (52) and Cincinnati Reds (51), whom they trail by one game in the NL Central.
"It's a mile marker along the way," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "There's a bunch of people in there who planned on getting there earlier than we did. We played well tonight, but we haven't found our rhythm on the road yet. But we're working hard. We're playing hard, and I'm very optimistic we're going to get there."
The performance of Bedard (5-10) might have been the most encouraging aspect of the Pirates' latest win. He went 6 2-3 innings and allowed two runs - one earned - on five hits in snapping his second four-game losing streak of the season. Bedard struck out four and walked four in his first win since beating Kansas City on June 8.
"Every win from here on out is going to be huge, but for us to have him come out and throw the ball the way he did is just as big," Pirates shortstop Clint Barmes said.
Between starts, Bedard said he threw a couple of bullpen sessions and focused on throwing his pitches with a greater degree of control to try to lessen the times he falls behind hitters in the count.
"I felt the same as I've felt in my other games," Bedard said. "I just threw more strikes. It helped today that they were really aggressive and swung early and put the ball in play. Starting the second half in Colorado was not what I wanted, but the results came out good and we'll build on that."
Christian Friedrich (5-7) gave up five runs on six hits in 4 2-3 innings in losing for the sixth time in his last seven decisions. He walked three and struck out two.
With two outs in the ninth, reliever Juan Cruz walked Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez and closer Joel Hanrahan walked Michael Cuddyer to load the bases before striking out pinch-hitter Tyler Colvin to earn his 25th save in 28 chances.
"We created a number of opportunities for ourselves, but we stranded 13 runners and that hurt," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said.
Trailing 2-1, the Pirates batted around in a four-run fifth to go in front 5-2.
Friedrich walked Michael McKenry and Clint Barmes to start the inning and Bedard advanced them with a sacrifice. Alex Presley 's RBI groundout evened the score and Barmes scored the go-ahead run on Drew Sutton 's single.
McCutchen, who homered in the fourth for the Pirates' first run, then singled. After Friedrich's wild pitch got past catcher Wilin Rosario and rolled to the backstop, allowing Sutton to score from third and McCutchen to move up, Casey McGehee hit an RBI single that chased Friedrich. Neil Walker singled off reliever Matt Reynolds to extend his hitting streak to 17 games before Pedro Alvarez struck out to end the inning.
"It just got away from me," Friedrich said. "You can't go into an inning when you have the seven, eight and nine hitters coming up and you walk the two leadoff hitters. You have to find a way to get that big out and I didn't get to it.
"I have to find a way to learn from these outings. Try to take the positives out of it and make it a lesson," Friedrich added.
Bedard retired the first two batters he faced in the seventh before Marco Scutaro singled to right. He walked Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez to load the bases and was relieved by Jared Hughes who got Michael Cuddyer to fly out to deep center for the final out of the inning.
Pittsburgh then added another run in the eighth on an RBI double by McKenry, a former Rockie.
The Rockies got an unearned run in the third when Scutaro scored from third after left fielder Alex Presley had Cuddyer's fly ball kick off the webbing of his glove for an error.
McCutchen connected for his 22nd homer leading off the fourth, but the Rockies took a 2-1 lead in bottom of the inning when Rosario walked and Josh Rutledge followed with an opposite-field triple to right.
NOTES: Pittsburgh sends RHP James McDonald (9-3) against RHP Jeremy Guthrie (3-9) in the finale of its three-game series at Colorado on Wednesday. ... The Rockies have placed infielders Jonathan Herrera (left wrist infection) and Chris Nelson (irregular heart beat) on the 15-day disabled list and recalled outfielder Andrew Brown and infielder DJ LeMahieu. ... Rockies RHP Jhoulys Chacin (right shoulder inflammation) came out of a 30-pitch simulated game well Tuesday and is slated for a roughly 45-pitch simulated game on Sunday. ... Walker's 17-game hitting streak is the longest by a Pirates player this season and one shy of his career high, set in 2010. ... Fowler has 16 hits in his last nine games. ... The Rockies left the bases loaded in the first, seventh and ninth innings.