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Preview: Pirates (55-49) at Giants (56-49)
BT Movements  ·  Line Movements
Game: 1
Venue: AT&T Park
Date: August 22, 2013 10:15 PM EDT
  

While Jeff Locke insists his back is fine, the results haven't been for the Pittsburgh Pirates' left-hander since the All-Star break.

Facing the slumping San Francisco Giants may be just what he needs to get back on track.

Locke hopes to end a season-worst five-start winless drought and help the visiting Pirates maintain their slim lead in the NL Central on Thursday night in the opener of this four-game series.

The Pirates (74-52) received another strong performance on the mound, but couldn't generate enough offense with only four hits in Wednesday's 2-1 loss in San Diego. The defeat cut their division lead to one game over St. Louis, which beat Milwaukee.

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Pittsburgh's starters have a 1.67 ERA in four games since allowing a season-high run total in a 15-5 loss to Arizona on Saturday.

Locke (9-4, 2.90 ERA) had the worst start of his career in that contest, allowing eight runs and 10 hits over 2 2-3 innings.

"Any start like that is a reality check," Locke said following the shortest of his 36 career starts. "You set your standards high, you set your goals high and you're disappointed when you don't reach them."

Locke missed his final turn in the rotation before the All-Star break because of stiffness in his lower back, but has downplayed the idea that he may still be feeling the effects of the injury.

The All-Star, however, hasn't won since July 21 - his first outing following the break. He's 0-2 with a 6.57 ERA with 17 walks in 24 2-3 innings over his last five starts.

While he's 4-2 with a 4.15 ERA in 12 home starts, Locke has pitched much better with a 5-2 record and 1.81 ERA in 12 on the road.

He may be able to continue that success against a San Francisco team that has totaled nine runs and gone 1 for 26 with runners in scoring position while dropping three of four. The Giants (56-70) fell into last place in the NL West following a 12-1 loss to Boston and the Padres' win over the Pirates on Wednesday.

"We're having a hard time with the bats here," manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's got to get better with the pitching side and the hitting side.'

Joaquin Arias was a bright spot in the loss with two hits, including his first home run of the season. Arias went 7 for 14 as San Francisco dropped two of three in Pittsburgh from June 11-13.

Resurgent Matt Cain (8-8, 4.35) takes the mound looking to pitch at least seven innings for a sixth straight start.

Since giving up 11 runs over three innings in consecutive July starts, Cain has gone 3-2 with a 2.41 ERA while limiting opponents to a .193 batting average in his last six.

He's been very successful against the Pirates, going 3-0 with a 1.24 ERA in his last six meetings. He hasn't allowed a run in 15 2-3 innings against them after giving up two hits over 6 2-3 in a 10-0 win at Pittsburgh on June 13.

Andrew McCutchen is batting .441 during an eight-game hitting streak against the Giants and .444 over his last 18 games overall, but is 2 for 16 when facing Cain.

Fellow All-Star Pedro Alvarez (0 for 6), Clint Barmes (1 for 18), Gaby Sanchez (2 for 14) and Neil Walker (1 for 8) also haven't fared well in this matchup.

The Giants have won 10 of 14 home meetings against the Pirates.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

 SERIES AT A GLANCE
GAME 1
Pirates at Giants
Thu, Aug 22 Final 10 to 5
 Boxscores    Recaps
GAME 2
Pirates at Giants
Fri, Aug 23 Final 3 to 1
 Boxscores    Recaps
GAME 3
Pirates at Giants
Sat, Aug 24 Final 3 to 6
 Boxscores    Recaps
GAME 4
Pirates at Giants
Sun, Aug 25 Final 0 to 4
 Boxscores    Recaps

 CURRENT LAS VEGAS LINE
 Team  ML   RUN   O/U 
 PIT  +114   -210   7 
 SFO  -124   +175   
LAS VEGAS LINE MOVEMENTS

 CURRENT SPORTSBOOK LINE
 Team  ML   RUN   O/U 
 PIT  +111   -190   7 
 SFO  -121   +165   
OFFSHORE LINE MOVEMENTS

 BETTING TRENDS
 Team  ML   RUN   O/U 
 PIT  54%   36%   47% 
 SFO  46%   64%   53% 
BT MOVEMENTS

 MLB HEAD TO HEAD
 Jun 13, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 SFO 10 Cover: +100 
 PIT 0 Over: 10 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Jun 12, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 SFO 8 Over: 20 
 PIT 12 Cover: +100 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Jun 11, 2013  Score  ATS Results 
 SFO 2 Over: 10 
 PIT 8 Cover: +100 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps

 MLB PREVIEWS
 Thursday, Aug 22
 
    Diamondbacks at Reds
12:35 PM EDT
    Dodgers at Marlins
12:40 PM EDT
    Twins at Tigers
1:05 PM EDT
    Blue Jays at Yankees
1:05 PM EDT
    Nationals at Cubs
2:20 PM EDT
    Rockies at Phillies
7:05 PM EDT
    White Sox at Royals
8:10 PM EDT
    Braves at Cardinals
8:15 PM EDT
    Pirates at Giants
10:15 PM EDT
 
 
 
  
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