The Pittsburgh Pirates will wear throwback uniforms Tuesday night against Baltimore to honor the 1971 World Series champions, the first of their two 70s clubs to top the Orioles in the Fall Classic.
Right now, that has to feel like the franchise's last hint of success against the AL.Two games below .500 after a four-game skid, the stumbling Pirates try to avoid a 20th loss in 24 interleague games as they continue this series against Baltimore.Pittsburgh (35-37) tied a season high with its fourth straight win Thursday in Houston, completing a sweep of the Astros to pull two games above .500 at its latest point since July 2, 1999.But a three-game sweep in Cleveland ran the Pirates' interleague road losing streak to 13, and returning to PNC Park didn't help end their misery against the AL. Baltimore (33-37) scored five first-inning runs off Charlie Morton and added two more in the second, sparking an 8-3 rout that dropped Pittsburgh to 4-19 in interleague play since June 28, 2009.The Pirates have scored seven runs during their slide, and they're batting .177 with runners in scoring position over their last 12 games."We squared up on some balls (and) we didn't chase as much," manager Clint Hurdle said. "But I can't sugarcoat it. We only had five hits."While Pittsburgh's struggling offense isn't anything new, its inconsistency on the mound is. The Pirates have allowed at least five runs in four consecutive games for the first time in 2011.That's a slump James McDonald (5-4, 4.80 ERA) will try to help his team end Tuesday, when he looks for his third straight victory.He hasn't been great in either, allowing 11 baserunners both times. The right-hander, though, was happy to help his team even without his best stuff through 5 2/3 innings in Thursday's 5-4 win at Houston."I felt like I competed, kept us in the game," McDonald said. "I didn't feel like I had good command."This is McDonald's first interleague start -- he twice appeared in relief with the Dodgers in 2009 -- but he's fared well against one former NL West foe. Orioles third baseman Mark Reynolds was 1 for 7 with five strikeouts against McDonald when he played for Arizona.Reynolds has cut down on his strikeouts somewhat after finishing with the three highest totals in major league history since 2008, but until recently, the added contact wasn't leading to better results. He was hitting .188 as of June 4, but is batting .348 (16 for 46) with six homers and 13 RBIs in his last 15 games.He's also fared well at PNC Park recently. After going 1 for 1 with three walks Monday, Reynolds is hitting .433 (13 for 30) with four homers and eight RBIs in his last eight games in Pittsburgh.Jeremy Guthrie (2-8, 3.56) should be happy to have Reynolds in the lineup Tuesday. Reynolds is 4 for 10 with three homers in Guthrie's last three outings.Guthrie, however, has won just once since opening day, and a strained back ruined his best start since then Thursday at Toronto. The right-hander held the Blue Jays to one hit over five scoreless innings, but left early and didn't get a decision in Baltimore's 4-3 win.Guthrie threw for the second consecutive day prior to Monday's win, though, and is set to pitch Tuesday. He's never faced the Pirates, but is 3-1 with a 2.63 ERA in six career interleague road outings.