USA TODAY SPORTS
The Pittsburgh Pirates are doing their best to duplicate the formula perfected by the San Francisco Giants, who relied on stellar starting pitching to win three of the last five World Series championships. The Pirates turn to another of their aces on Tuesday as they continue their three-game set against the host Giants, who have lost three in a row following a five-game winning streak.
A.J. Burnett, who ranks fourth in the National League with a 1.81 ERA, takes the mound aiming to lead the Pirates to their 10th win in the last 12 games. The Pirates’ starting pitchers are 9-1 with a 2.47 ERA and 85 strikeouts over the last 12 games, including Monday’s 4-3 series-opening victory. The Giants posted a 21-9 record in May but opened the new month with another fairly quiet night from right fielder Hunter Pence, who has three hits in his last 27 at-bats while hitting third in the order. Left fielder Nori Aoki continues to spark the Giants from the leadoff spot with a .407 average and 10 runs scored over his last 16 games.
TV: 10:15 p.m. ET, ROOT (Pittsburgh), CSN Bay Area (San Francisco)
LINE HISTORY: Books opened the Giants -105, but that has been adjusted to -110. The total opened at 7.
INJURY REPORT: N/A
PITCHING MATCHUP: Pirates RH A.J. Burnett (5-1, 1.81 ERA) vs. Giants RH Chris Heston (5-3, 3.82)
Burnett earned his fifth straight win last Thursday despite allowing five runs (four earned) over 5 2/3 innings against San Diego. The 38-year-old’s surprising dominance extends to the road, where he’s 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA in six starts. Aoki is 5-for-13 with three doubles against Burnett, who is 6-3 with a 2.04 ERA in 10 career starts against San Francisco, including eight shutout innings at Citizens Bank Park while pitching for Philadelphia on July 23, 2014.
Heston’s spot in the rotation appeared in jeopardy following two rough outings, but he bounced back nicely with 7 1/3 shutout innings last Thursday against Atlanta. “He’s a four-pitch guy, gets good sink on the ball on both sides, he can four-seam it, he’s got the curveball and slider,” manager Bruce Bochy told reporters. “He throws a lot at you, and he’s got the velocity to go with it.” Heston has been especially strong at home, where he owns a 2.16 ERA in five starts this season.
* Pirates are 5-2 in the last seven meetings.
* Over is 5-0 in Hestons last five starts overall.
* Pirates are 9-2 in their last 11 overall.
* Giants are 4-0 in Heston’s last four starts.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Fifty-three percent of bettors are backing the Pirates.