Bucs brace for high-profile pitchers

Bucs brace for high-profile pitchers

PITTSBURGH -- A glance at the PNC Park mound the past two days would suggest fate did no favors for the Pirates, who entered this past weekend having not scored more than three runs in their eight previous games entering Friday's series-opener against the Giants. They faced a two-time reigning National League Cy Young winner Sunday, the league's hottest pitcher Monday and will oppose the highest-regarded Draft pick in recent memory Tuesday.

But a day after their 6-3 win Saturday night, the Pirates put up five runs, three of which came off two-time Giants flamethrower Tim Lincecum.

The Pirates faced another test Monday in their rescheduled game against the Cubs, who trotted out Carlos Silva, winner of each of his last five starts. Silva has an ERA of 3.12.

Awaiting them Tuesday in Washington is, of course, the heralded Stephen Strasburg, last year's No. 1 overall pick who will be making his Major League debut.

But the Pirates' bats have generally risen to the occasion against the biggest pitchers they have faced. Look no further than their defeats of Philadelphia's Roy Halladay, Arizona's Dan Haren and the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw.

"We were a hit or two away from definitely winning [Sunday's] game," Garrett Jones said. "We made a few mistakes, but we can compete with anybody, is what it comes down to. We can compete with anybody."