LOS ANGELES — The Pittsburgh Pirates headed north by bus Sunday evening to see if the roller-coaster ride will continue.
Fresh off a series victory at San Diego [url=http://www.billscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-josh-allen-jersey]Authentic Josh Allen Jersey[/url] , capped by a 7-5 victory Sunday, the Pirates are now in Los Angeles for the first of three games Monday, having won four of their last six games.
That winning run came after a five-game losing streak. The five games before that? The Pirates won four of them.
The Dodgers have been a bit steadier of late, going 17-9 in June to keep pace with the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League West. But the end of June was a bit of a struggle as the Dodgers lost four of their last five before the calendar flipped. They opened July with a 6-4 win over the Colorado Rockies on Sunday.
Not only did the Dodgers’ offense take off in June, to the tune of 55 home runs to set a franchise record for a month, the pitching staff got healthy again … literally.
Alex Wood (4-5, 4.00 ERA) will take the mound Monday, looking and feeling much better after nagging leg cramps early in the year.
Wood went seven innings against the Chicago Cubs in his last outing Wednesday, his longest start since his season debut on March 30 when he worked eight innings against the San Francisco Giants.
An All-Star for the first time last season [url=http://www.officialwild.com/authentic-adidas-devan-dubnyk-jersey]Devan Dubnyk Jersey[/url] , Wood is once again starting to look like the pitcher who can rise to the occasion on a nightly basis.
“I’m still looking for consistency out of my sinker, but the breaking ball was a lot better,” Wood told reporters after his most recent start. “Overall, it was pretty good.”
The Dodgers also have Clayton Kershaw back recently from a lower back injury and Rich Hill returned from a blister on his left middle finger. Both left-handers will face the Pirates this week.
Pittsburgh announced Sunday that Nick Kingham (2-3, 3.82) will start the series opener at Dodger Stadium. He will take the spot of Chad Kuhl, who is on the DL with a forearm strain.
The Pirates (40-43) know that getting some length on their current winning ways can get them to .500 soon, possibly by the All-Star break that starts in two weeks.
“We’re starting to show a little bit of resiliency here the last week or so,” Pirates infielder Josh Harrison said, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “A team that (is) not making any excuses [url=http://www.oaklandraidersteamonline.com/kolton-miller-jersey]Authentic Kolton Miller Jersey[/url] , which is refreshing because at the end of the day we know what we have to do and that’s come to show up every day.
“It’s been some ups and downs, but every team goes through ups and downs, and a lot of guys here are riding that wave of knowing that any day can be that day that we turn it around.”
Wood is 2-2 with a 2.86 ERA in eight career games (seven starts) against the Pirates. He has not faced Pittsburgh since last season. Kingham, a rookie, has not pitched against the Dodgers in any of his first six appearances.
SAN FRANCISCO — Johnny Cueto returns from a two-month stint on the disabled list to open a 10-game homestand when the San Francisco Giants host the St. Louis Cardinals in the opener of a four-game series Thursday night.
The Giants completed a six-game trip with a thud Wednesday, dropping a third straight game at Colorado to cancel out an impressive three-game sweep at Arizona.
San Francisco will have to hope a return home rejuvenates the bats that produced 41 runs during a recent 7-3 homestand. The Giants were held to three runs at Colorado, their lowest total ever in a three-game series at Coors Field by a full four runs.
Cueto surely has the potential to turn the Giants’ pitching fortunes back in a positive direction. Before being sidelined by a sprained right elbow, he went 3-0 with a 0.84 ERA in five starts in March and April.
After giving up no runs in two injury-rehab starts at Triple-A Sacramento, he was deemed healthy enough to return to the Giants’ rotation.
“When you’ve got one of your big guys ready to go [url=http://www.philadelphiaeaglesteamonlines.com/dallas-goedert-jersey]Authentic Dallas Goedert Jersey[/url] , you pitch him,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy announced this week. “He passed all the tests. He checked every box off. He’s thrown the ball well — no runs. His bullpen (Monday) went well, he’s practiced bunts, he’s set to go.”
Cueto will be making his 24th career start against the Cardinals, against whom he has gone 7-8 with a 3.74 ERA.
He has never lost to St. Louis since joining the Giants in 2016, going 2-0 with a 1.77 ERA in three starts.
The 32-year-old has had more than his fair share of success against some of the Cardinals’ top guns: Matt Carpenter (.217), Marcell Ozuna (.200) and Dexter Fowler (.158).
Cueto will face a Cardinals team that will be riding the momentum of a late explosion that produced an 8-4 win at Arizona on Wednesday night.
Before that win, St. Louis had lost five of its last six games, having totaled 19 runs in those games.
The Cardinals will send out 24-year-old right-hander Luke Weaver (4-7 [url=http://www.seattleseahawksteamonline.com/rashaad-penny-jersey]Authentic Rashaad Penny Jersey[/url] , 5.16) to face Cueto.
The third-year major-leaguer has struggled in his last nine starts, going 1-5, and is coming off his worst outing of the season when he allowed eight runs in 4 2/3 innings in an 11-4 home loss to Atlanta on Saturday.
Weaver has pitched well against the Giants in his career, going 1-1 with a 1.86 ERA in two starts, both of which were in San Francisco.
Interestingly, Weaver has allowed just one home run to a current member of the Giants, and that happens to be Madison Bumgarner, who is scheduled to pitch Sunday’s series finale against Jack Flaherty.
The Giants also expect to get Jeff Samardzija back from the disabled list during the series. He is slated to return from shoulder and pectoral soreness to start Saturday.
The Cardinals (44-41) and Giants (45-43) will open the series with nearly identical records. Both would be on the outside looking in had the playoffs begun Thursday.