The Pittsburgh Pirates are on the verge of winning their first series at Citizens Bank Park.
Starling Marte will try to continue his hot hitting at the top of the lineup and help the Pirates to a third straight win over the Phillies on Thursday in the finale of this four-game set.
Pittsburgh (12-9) has won four of its last five games in Philadelphia, equaling its total from the previous 24 visits. The Pirates haven't won a series there since taking two of three from April 4-6, 2003, in the Phillies' final season at Veterans Stadium.
They put themselves in position to win this one by scoring four runs in the final three innings to rally for a 5-3 victory Wednesday. Marte scored the go-ahead run on a pinch-hit single by Brandon Inge in the eighth before he padded the lead with an RBI triple in the final inning.
"We try to play until the end no matter the score," said third baseman Pedro Alvarez , who is 7 for 19 with four homers and six RBIs in his last six games. "That's a very good team, so it was a big win, huge really."
Marte leads Pittsburgh with a .329 average and is emerging as a serious threat in the leadoff spot after hitting .257 in 47 games as a rookie last year. The left fielder is batting .441 with four doubles, two triples, six runs and four stolen bases during an eight-game road hitting streak. That includes five hits - three for extra bases - and three steals in this series.
Marte is expected to get his first look at Lee (2-1, 2.83 ERA), who is trying to rebound from Saturday's 5-0 loss to St. Louis. The left-hander gave up five runs and three walks in five innings after compiling a 1.52 ERA while issuing one walk over his first three outings.
"Obviously, I had trouble out there commanding the ball," Lee told the team's official website. "Those guys all scored. I've got to do a better job commanding the strike zone."
Lee is 1-0 with a 3.05 ERA in three starts against the Pirates, winning the only one in Philadelphia on July 30, 2011.
Lee could use some help from the lineup, which has backed him with two runs over his last two games after scoring 10 over his first two.
The Phillies have been feast or famine at the plate during a 3-7 stretch, hitting .348 with 18 runs in those victories compared to .195 while scoring 10 times in the defeats.
Pittsburgh scheduled starter James McDonald (2-2, 4.12) has alternated wins and losses through his first four starts, but his latest appearance was impressive
He yielded one run and two hits with a season-high nine strikeouts and four walks in six innings of Saturday's 3-1 win over Atlanta. In an effort to help restore McDonald's confidence after he surrendered eight runs in 1 2-3 innings in a loss to St. Louis on April 15, catcher Russell Martin showed the right-hander highlights of him striking out batters.
"I was motivated after watching the video," McDonald said. "I wanted to go out and throw well."
He's 1-2 with a 6.10 ERA in four career starts versus the Phillies.
Chase Utley , who is 6 for 15 in his last four games, and Ryan Howard , who is 7 for 19 in his last five, have both his McDonald hard. Utley is 4 for 6 with a homer while Howard is 3 for 4 with a home run and double.
|April 09, 2013||Wandy Rodriguez||Day-to-Day||Left game - left leg strain|
|March 26, 2013||Brandon Inge||15-Day DL||Right scapula soreness|
|March 26, 2013||Brandon Inge||15-Day DL||Right scapula soreness|
|March 22, 2013||Francisco Liriano||15-Day DL||Fractured right forearm|
|March 22, 2013||Jeff Karstens||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|March 22, 2013||Charlie Morton||15-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|April 18, 2013||John Lannan||15-Day DL||Strained left quadriceps tendon|
|March 22, 2013||Delmon Young||15-Day DL||Recovery from right ankle surgery|
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The Pirates have been getting contributions from up and down their lineup to win 10 times in the last 13 games.
On Thursday, it was Gaby Sanchez , who homered and drove in three runs, and Garrett Jones hit a go-ahead, two-run double to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 6-4 comeback victory over the struggling Philadelphia Phillies .
"You don't try to explain it," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We just play the game, one at a time. I really like our focus and intensity.
"Everybody knows their role. Even if they don't start, they stay prepared and ready to go."
Justin Wilson (2-0) pitched two hitless innings in relief of James McDonald and the Pirates won their third straight. Taking the four-game series gave Pittsburgh its first series win in Philadelphia since April 4-6, 2003 at now demolished Veterans Stadium.
Ryan Howard went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs and Domonic Brown had a pair of doubles with an RBI for the Phillies, who have lost three straight and eight of 11. And the frustration was apparent in the eighth inning when Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was ejected by third-base umpire Dan Iassogna for arguing that Clint Barmes should have been called out for interference.
"We're just not playing good baseball right now," Manuel said. "We're in a bad term, or whatever you want to call it. We're trying and we have a lot of life, but we're not getting it done. We're in a period where we're not playing good at all."
Jones, pinch-hitting for Brandon Inge , laced a double off the wall in right with one out in the eighth against reliever Phillippe Aumont (1-3) to put the Pirates ahead 5-3. After striking out Jose Tabata to start the inning, Aumont hit Barmes with a pitch and allowed consecutive singles to Travis Snider and Marte to load the bases with one out.
Chad Durbin replaced Aumont (1-3) and gave up Sanchez's sacrifice fly that made it 6-3.
"I think it's the way we stayed after it against a real good pitcher," Hurdle said. "We didn't back away. Our hitters came through."
That was plenty for the stingy Pirates bullpen, which entered second in the majors with a 1.78 ERA. Watson pitched the last two innings for his first career save while closer Jason Grilli had the day off.
The Phillies scored a pair of runs in the sixth on Howard's RBI single and Brown's sacrifice fly before the Pirates tied it in the top of the seventh on two-out RBI singles from Sanchez and Michael McKenry .
"I think as a team we know that even though it's the seventh or eighth inning, we can put together some good at-bats," Sanchez said.
Cliff Lee allowed three runs and 10 hits while striking out seven and walking one. The seventh inning was his undoing.
"That's where I have to do a good job of keeping the lead," Lee said, noting that that both RBIs came on broken-bat hits. "I felt like I made some decent pitches. Things went their way that inning."
He tried to steal second base after reaching on an infield single in the fifth, but was thrown out.
"Basically I had it," Lee said. "I just got too antsy and took off too early."
McDonald allowed three runs and five hits with three walks and four strikeouts in five-plus innings.
Brown hit a blooper that fell in for an RBI double in the fourth that made it 1-0 before Sanchez tied it with a leadoff homer in the sixth.
Notes: Manuel's ejection was his first of the season and 51st of his 12-year managerial career. ... Slumping Phillies OF Ben Revere didn't start for the first time this season. He is batting .207 with 14 strikeouts in 87 at-bats. Ezequiel Carrera went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts in his place. ... McDonald, a career .100 hitter (14-for-140) entering Thursday, went 2-for-2 with a pair of singles. ... Phillies RHP Kyle Kendrick (1-1, 3.28) is scheduled to face Pirates righty Dillon Gee (1-3, 5.95) when the teams open a three-game set in New York on Friday night. ... Pittsburgh LHP Jonathan Sanchez (0-2, 11.12) is slated to oppose Cardinals right-hander Lance Lynn (3-0, 3.68) when the teams begin a three-game series at 7:15 p.m. Friday in St. Louis.