Opportunity for Bowker


This would be a great time for John Bowker to start cranking out hits. The starters at first base and right field — the two positions Bowker plays — are nursing potentially season-ending injuries, so he figures to get a lot of playing time over the final 14 games of the season.

Saturday, Bowker went 3 for 4, including a two-run homer. Over the previous few games, he’d hit a several balls hard … but right at fielders.

“I’ve kind of been unlucky, but tonight I squared up some balls good,” Bowker said.

Bowker’s home run came on a 1-1 fastball from Barry Enright. But Bowker wasn’t sure at first the ball would clear the center field wall.

“When I hit it, I didn’t really know, because it was kind of low,” Bowker said. “I knew it would at least be over (center fielder Ryan Church’s) head, but it kept carrying.”

Bowker has driven in at least one run in four of his past five games, and has nudged his batting average up to, ahem, .205.

Although he struggled at the plate after being traded to the Pirates, Bowker didn’t make any adjustments to his swing. He figured the hits would start to come eventually.

“It’s a matter of playing consistently,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been a little bit late on some balls. I’m just trying to be more aggressive.”

Right field is a question mark next season for the Pirates, as Lastings Milledge is no sure bet as an everyday player in 2011. Bowker arrived with the rep of a being a “Four-A” player — a guy who tears it up in Triple-A, but can’t find that success in the majors.

Milledge is out the rest of the season with a strained oblique. First baseman Garrett Jones is on the shelf with a sore shoulder. Between those two spots, Bowker will get plenty of time to audition for a bigger role next season.

Lineups for this afternoon’s game:

Diamondbacks (59-90) – 1. Stephen Drew ss, 2, Ryan Roberts lf, 3. Chris Young cf, 4. Mark Reynolds 3b, 5. Adam LaRoche 1b, 6. Tony Abreu 2b, 7. John Hester c, 8. Gerardo Parra rf, 9. Daniel Hudson (6-1, 1.67) rhp

Pirates (50-98) – 1. Andrew McCutchen cf, 2. Jose Tabata lf, 3. Neil Walker 2b, 4. Pedro Alvarez 3b, 5. Ryan Doumit c, 6. John Bowker 1b, 7. Brandon Moss rf, 8. Ronny Cedeno ss, 9. Zach Duke (7-14, 5.78) lhp