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Astros @ Pirates Pre-Game Buzz: McCutchen on a tear but 4-6 hitters producing after him has been key

Houston Astros (32-50, 9-31 away) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (45-36, 26-13 home)

Houston Bud Norris (5-5, 4.90 ERA) vs Pittsburgh Jeff Karstens (1-2, 5.25 ERA)
— The first place Pirates have won five straight against the Houston Astros and look to complete a four game sweep, their first four game sweep since 2006, and move 10 games above .500. Pittsburgh which has won 15 of 18 games, are 7-1 in their last eight games, averaging 8.3 runs during that span.
— Tonight’s pitching matchup has Jeff Karstens (1-2, 5.25 ERA) vs Bud Norris (5-5, 4.90 ERA). Karstens is coming off a strong outing against the Cardinals Saturday where he allowed 2 earned runs in seven innings of work, receiving his first win of the season. Karstens faces Houston for the first time tonight and was excellent against them last season, going 3-0 with an 0.40 ERA in three starts, including a complete game 5-hit shutout against the Astros on July 15, 2011. Norris has been effective against the Pirates in the past striking out eight in six innings of work in Houston 1-0 victory at Pittsburgh on May 11.
Andrew McCutchen (.360 – 16 HR – 54 RBI) has emerged as maybe the best player in the National League this season, leading the Majors in batting at .360 and he’s batting .514 (18 for 35) with 3 home runs and 8 RBIs in his last eight games. McCutchen in the Pirates last handful of game is also getting great production behind him
Garrett Jones (.275 – 12 HR – 36 RBI) who is batting cleanup behind McCutchen, is hitting .464 (13 for 28) with 3 home runs and 8 RBI’s in his last 7 games. Jones is hitting .323 as the cleanup hitter.
Casey McGehee (.245 – 5 HR – 25 RBI) is hitting .321 with 2 home runs and 9 RBIs in his last nine games.
Pedro Alvarez (.237 – 15 HR – 48 RBI) is hitting .412 (7 for 17) with 2 home runs, 13 RBIs in his last six games. Alvarez is hitting .308 with 9 home runs in the No. 6 spot.
1. Drew Sutton, LF
2. Neil Walker, 2B
3. Andrew McCutchen, CF
4. Garrett Jones, RF
5. Casey McGehee, 1B
6. Pedro Alvarez, 3B
7. Rob Barajas, C
8. Clint Barmes, SS
9. Jeff Karstens, P

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