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06/03/10 1:02 AM ET

Giants' F. Sanchez makes return to Pittsburgh

While Friday's opener between the Giants and Pirates will mark Freddy Sanchez's return to Pittsburgh for the first time since being traded last season, it also marks a series that will be very important for both teams.

The Giants could use a strong series from Sanchez, who played with the Pirates for five years, as they attempt to keep pace with the Padres, who continue to lead the National League West.

Sanchez will play his first game at PNC Park since being shipped to San Francisco nearly 10 months ago. But he won't bring any hard feelings with him.

"No, not at all. The way the organization, top to bottom, treated my family and I was spectacular; I loved every minute there," Sanchez said. "It stings a little bit, just the fact that obviously at the time that's where I wanted to retire ... and it just didn't happen, for whatever reason."

Since returning to the lineup on May 19 after rehabbing a surgically repaired left shoulder, Sanchez has hit .326 in 13 games. The Giants could use a jolt from Sanchez as they try to outslug the Pirates after dropping a series to the Rockies.

The Pirates' lineup, however, may not be up for being outdone at the dish. Since manager John Russell moved Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen to the top of the lineup, the Bucs have seen more positive results. So Russell says he's going to stick with it.

In addition to the lineup swap, Russell is impressed with Walker's early success.

"Neil has done well," Russell said. "Obviously, the league is going to start making adjustments to him. With the way McCutchen is swinging the bat and runs and Neil uses the whole field, it gives you a lot of options. They have the attributes to be a good one-two punch. Hopefully, Neil continues to develop and that when he does go through that adjustment period, he's able to handle it. He has a lot of confidence right now, and hopefully, that will help him through any adversity that comes his way."

One man who hopes the top of the Pirates' order continues to produce is Friday starter Zach Duke, who was pushed back after Wednesday's rainout of a game with the Cubs. Duke hasn't had a bad season, but he has been victimized by a lack of run support. He did get knocked around in his last start against the Braves, giving up seven runs in 5 1/3 innings, but his results are somewhat muted by the fact that he pitched several innings through a steady rain.

Giants: Lefty Sanchez gets nod against Bucs
Another Sanchez will also take center stage in Friday's game -- starter Jonathan Sanchez. Despite carrying a losing record, Sanchez is putting together a very strong campaign. His last outing, a win over the D-backs which lowered his ERA to 2.96, saw him allow just one run in five innings.

Pirates: Eveland to join club Friday
Acquired in a trade earlier this week, lefty Dana Eveland is expected to join the club on Friday. His arrival will have to trigger another roster move. Eveland is supposed to pitch a few times out of the bullpen to get comfortable in his new National League digs and then will work his way into the rotation. "He hasn't pitched competitively in a game for a little while, so it would be unfair to ask him to go right back in with starts," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. "But big picture, our thought is he could be a starting pitcher for us."

Worth noting
Before Friday's game, the Pirates finally will get a day off Thursday after playing 20 games in 20 days.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.