05/16/10 7:22 PM ET
Bucs look for road win vs. homebody Phils
By Zach Schonbrun / MLB.com
But it won't be easy. The Phillies have won 11 of their last 14, including a weekend sweep at Milwaukee, and could activate star shortstop Jimmy Rollins off the disabled list before Monday's game.
Rollins, who has been out since April 13 with a right calf strain, will add an extra punch to a Philadelphia lineup that still leads the National League in average, slugging percentage and runs per game.
Furthermore, Philadelphia is 10-6 at home this season and went 45-36 last year en route to the National League pennant. The Pirates have lost five straight and 10 of their last 11 games in Philadelphia, and have never had a winning road trip under manager John Russell.
Pittsburgh managed to win three of its last four games, though, and is 2-1 so far in a stretch of 20 games in 20 days. The Pirates will play 12 of those games on the road and will face Central Division opponents 12 times in that stretch. Pittsburgh is 11-13 against division rivals this season and have yet to face an Eastern Division team.
The pitching matchup features two relatively young starters who are trying to find their footing. Philadelphia will turn to Kyle Kendrick, and he'll be opposed by Charlie Morton. Kendrick has held his opponents to zero runs in two of his first seven outings, but he's given up at least four earned runs in each of the other five starts.
Morton, meanwhile, has struggled even more than that. The 26-year-old allowed at least five earned runs in each of his first four outings, all losses. Morton has been better since, working 18 innings and allowing eight earned runs over his last three outings. Still, Morton has a 1-6 record this season and a 10-23 mark for his career.
The Pirates may have their share of struggles on the road, but it's not because of catcher Ryan Doumit. The veteran has hit safely in 10 of his last 11 road games and is batting .377 (17-for-45) over that span. Doumit has gone through a bit of a slump in recent days, but has provided some strong production over the last few weeks, batting .293 (22-for-75) in his last 21 games.
And if the Pirates are going to make any kind of move, they'll need center fielder Andrew McCutchen to keep up his current hot streak. McCutchen, the runner-up in last year's National League Rookie of the Year balloting, has batted .486 (18-for-37) over his last 11 games. McCutchen has six multihit games and has drilled six extra-base hits over that span.
The Phillies placed Brad Lidge on the disabled list after Saturday's game, but they can be content in knowing that their bullpen has pitched well of late. The relievers have produced a collective 1.88 ERA and have held opposing hitters to a .202 bating average (20-for-99) in May. The relief staff has allowed the second-fewest walks (36) and home runs (eight) in the National League.
The Pirates are 11-5 when they hit at least one home run. ... The Pirates have thrown out just three of the first 27 runners attempting to steal. ... Despite losing to the Cubs on Sunday, Pittsburgh has outscored Chicago 35-18 this season. ... Phillies left-hander J.A. Happ hopes to throw a bullpen session early this week as he continues to rehab his left forearm injury. ... The Phillies have won four of their last five series, with the lone exception a two-game split in Colorado.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.