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Major League Baseball
Preview
Boston at Pittsburgh
When: 7:05 PM ET, Thursday, September 18, 2014
Where: PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The Pittsburgh Pirates are picking on the lowly Boston Red Sox in order to solidify their postseason standing. The Pirates will try to polish off a three-game sweep and keep the pressure on the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central when they host the Red Sox in the series finale on Thursday. Pittsburgh is 2 1/2 games behind the Cardinals in the Central and holds a 2 1/2-game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers for the second wild card.

The Pirates’ pitching has been too much for Boston, which has managed one run in the series. After giving Kansas City a battle to open their final road trip of the season, the Red Sox have spent their interleague time in Pittsburgh introducing new pieces to the lineup and trying to coax what they can out of the likes of Allen Craig and Will Middlebrooks. Pittsburgh got three home runs in a 9-1 drubbing Wednesday and has won 10 of its last 12 to build some momentum in front of a showdown with the Brewers this weekend.

TV:
7:05 p.m. ET, NESN (Boston), ROOT (Pittsburgh)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Red Sox RH Brandon Workman (1-9, 5.27 ERA) vs. Pirates RH Gerrit Cole (9-5, 3.92)

Workman continues to get chances to earn a spot in the team’s 2015 plans but is not exactly sprinting to the finish line. The Texas product has not won since June 10 and was lit up for six runs – five earned – on six hits and three walks in three innings against Baltimore his last time out. Workman last faced an NL opponent at St. Louis on Aug. 7 and surrendered four runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings to suffer the loss.

Cole is coming off back-to-back wins against the Cubs and held Chicago to three runs on five hits – two home runs – over six innings on Friday. The 24-year-old had yielded a total of two home runs in his previous nine starts. Cole is making his first career start against the Red Sox and beat the New York Yankees in his last shot at interleague play May 18.

WALK-OFFS


1. Red Sox Cuban OF Rusney Castillo made his major-league debut Wednesday and went 1-for-4.

2. Pittsburgh C Russell Martin has hit safely in nine straight games and has 11 RBIs in that span.

3. Boston utilityman Brock Holt (concussion) has missed 11 straight games and will undergo further testing Thursday at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center for Sports Medicine.

PREDICTION:
Pirates 6, Red Sox 1
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away East Central West IL
Boston 66-86 L2 31-44 35-42 26-41 17-16 14-19 9-10
Pittsburgh 81-70 W3 48-29 33-41 18-12 33-37 20-12 10-9
Last Meeting
Boston Pittsburgh
Date Away Home Avg HR OPS Avg HR OPS
9/17/14 BOS 1 PIT 9 .167 0 .506 .395 3 1.147
Player Stats
Season Series
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Boston X. Bogaerts .250 2 .500
Pittsburgh C. Barmes .571 4 1.286
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Boston B. Brentz 0 1 0
Pittsburgh S. Marte 1 3 2
Pitching ERA Avg K
Boston 6.19 .190 11
Pittsburgh 0.50 .319 17
Season
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Boston B. Holt .281 126 .711
Pittsburgh J. Harrison .318 150 .857
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Boston D. Ortiz 32 56 99
Pittsburgh A. McCutchen 23 81 75
Pitching ERA Avg K
Boston 4.03 .242 1140
Pittsburgh 3.56 .261 1136