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Royals-Pirates Preview

Jun 27, 2009 - 4:48 AM By BRETT HUSTON STATS Writer

Kansas City (31-40) at Pittsburgh (33-39), 7:05 p.m. EDT

The Pittsburgh Pirates haven't had a winning record in interleague play since 2001, and with the club dealing its most productive hitter earlier this month before an AL-heavy stretch, there was little reason to expect that to change.

Instead, Pittsburgh is on the verge of making it happen.

The Pirates can guarantee they'll have more wins than losses against the AL with a victory Saturday night against the visiting Kansas City Royals, who will give Bruce Chen his first major league start in nearly three years.

Pittsburgh (34-39) came into this season with a major-league worst .312 winning percentage in interleague play since 2002, and the early June trade of All-Star center fielder Nate McLouth seemed to signal the start of another rebuilding process.

The Pirates aren't fading, though, largely thanks to some solid interleague play. After going 63-103 against the AL since 1997, Pittsburgh improved to 7-6 in 2009 with a 5-3 win over the Royals (31-41) on Friday.

The power-starved Pirates, who came into Friday's game tied for 29th in the majors with 45 homers, hit three in the series opener. Nyjer Morgan, Jason Jaramillo and Jack Wilson had a combined six home runs before each went deep.

"Everybody can hit homers - it's just sometimes you don't have to swing for it," Wilson told the Pirates' official Web site. "For guys like us, it's more like a line drive that you get under it a little bit. It's nice to be able to get power from unexpected sources."

Pittsburgh should feel pretty good about its chances to win its fourth straight considering Chen (0-0, 0.00 ERA) hasn't pitched in the majors since making five relief appearances with Texas in April 2007.

Chen hasn't started since Aug. 4, 2006, but he did go 4-2 with a 3.40 ERA and three shutouts in 14 games for Triple-A Omaha. He'll replace the struggling Kyle Davies in the rotation.

Chen is 1-3 with a 4.15 ERA in 13 games - four starts - against the Pirates. Utility infielder Ramon Vazquez is 4 for 4 versus Chen.

Paul Maholm (4-4, 4.48) will get the ball for the Pirates, and he'll be looking to bounce back from consecutive rough outings. Maholm gave up eight runs and a career-high 14 hits over five innings on June 16 at Minnesota, then yielded five runs and eight hits over five innings in a 5-4 loss at Colorado on Sunday.

"I'm going to make sure I'm going to get back in the rhythm like I was a few starts ago and attack hitters," Maholm said.

Six of Maholm's last seven starts have come on the road, where he's 2-3 with a 6.05 ERA. At PNC Park, however, he's 2-1 with a 1.83 ERA and hasn't allowed a home run in 34 1-3 innings.

Maholm's lone start against the Royals didn't go well, however. He gave up seven runs and walked five over 4 1-3 innings in a 15-7 loss at PNC on June 22, 2006.

Mark Teahen is the only Kansas City starter from that day that's currently a regular, and he's one of the few Royals who's hitting well recently. Teahen is batting .326 (14 for 43) with six RBIs in his last 11 games, and he hit his ninth homer Friday.

Kansas City is 12-40 when it fails to score at least six runs, and hasn't put up more than five in 10 games.






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    Royals 2, Pirates 6  FinalJun 28 5:36 AM


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    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    KANSAS CITY 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 7 0
    PITTSBURGH 0 0 0 3 0 0 1 2 x 6 11 1 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: KAN - BRUCE CHEN, ROMAN COLON (7TH), JOHN BALE (8TH) AND MIGUEL
    OLIVO
    PIT - PAUL MAHOLM, JOHN GRABOW (8TH), JEFF KARSTENS
    (9TH) AND ROBINZON DIAZ

    HOME RUNS: KAN

    Jun 27 9:50 PM


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    AT PITTSBURGH - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY DELWYN YOUNG SCORED ADAM LAROCHE.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, D YOUNG ON FIRST, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: KANSAS CITY 2
    PITTSBURGH 6 BOTTOM, 8TH
    DUE UP FOR PITTSBURGH: AN LAROCHE (.269, 1-FOR-3)

    Royals 2, Pirates 6  Bot 8, 0 OutsJun 27 9:32 PM


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    AT PITTSBURGH - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY ADAM LAROCHE SCORED FREDDY SANCHEZ.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, A LAROCHE ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: KANSAS CITY 2
    PITTSBURGH 5 BOTTOM, 8TH
    DUE UP FOR PITTSBURGH: D YOUNG (.330, 1-FOR-3, HR, 3 RBI)

    Royals 2, Pirates 5  Bot 8, 0 OutsJun 27 9:30 PM


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    AT PITTSBURGH - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY JACK WILSON SCORED ANDY LAROCHE.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, J WILSON ON FIRST, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: KANSAS CITY 2
    PITTSBURGH 4 BOTTOM, 7TH
    DUE UP FOR PITTSBURGH: P MAHOLM (.100, 0-FOR-2)

    Royals 2, Pirates 4  Bot 7, 0 OutsJun 27 9:01 PM
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    Royals 2, Pirates 4  Bot 7, 0 OutsJun 27 9:01 PM
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    RUWTbot Added 35 roots (Close Finish)

    Royals 2, Pirates 3  Bot 7, 0 OutsJun 27 8:51 PM


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    AT PITTSBURGH - SCORING UPDATE
    THREE-RUN HOME RUN BY DELWYN YOUNG (2) TO CENTER WITH 1 OUT
    IN THE 4TH OFF BRUCE CHEN SCORED FREDDY SANCHEZ AND ADAM LAROCHE.
    CURRENT SCORE: KANSAS CITY 2, PITTSBURGH 3
    DUE UP FOR PITTSBURGH: AN LAROCHE (.267, 0-FOR-1)

    Royals 2, Pirates 3  Bot 4, 0 OutsJun 27 8:06 PM


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    AT PITTSBURGH - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY BILLY BUTLER SCORED WILLIE BLOOMQUIST.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, B BUTLER ON FIRST, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: KANSAS CITY 2
    PITTSBURGH 0 TOP, 3RD
    DUE UP FOR KANSAS CITY: J GUILLEN (.256, 0-FOR-1)

    Royals 2, Pirates 0  Top 3, 0 OutsJun 27 7:40 PM


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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    KANSAS CITY 1 1 2 0
    PITTSBURGH 0 0 0 (BOT 1)

    CURRENT PITCHERS: KAN - BRUCE CHEN
    PIT - PAUL MAHOLM

    DUE UP FOR PITTSBURGH: A MCCUTCHEN (.323, 1 HR, 18 RBI)
    N MORGAN (.267, 2 HR, 27 RBI)
    F SANCHEZ (.314, 6 HR, 31 R

    Royals 1, Pirates 0  Bot 1, 0 OutsJun 27 7:11 PM
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    Royals vs. PiratesJun 27 9:14 AM