Pregame: Rough stretch


A week ago, I said during a radio interview that if the Pirates fell out of contention in the NL Central, I didn’t expect it to be a sudden, stock market crash-type event. I figured it probably would be a gradual fade over a span of weeks.

My bad. The past 10 games have been a nightmare — a 1-9 record, a 4.78 ERA and a .230 team batting average — that have seen the Pirates go from first to third (barely) in the division.

»»» Jose Tabata (strained quad) is on his way to the airport and tomorrow will resume his rehab assignment with Triple-A Indianapolis.

»»» Derrek Lee (hand) is not in the lineup again tonight. He’ll test his hand during batting practice to determine whether he’ll be available as a pinch-hitter tonight.

»»» The Pirates’ Venezuelan Summer League team clinched a playoff berth for the sixth straight year. The defending VSL champs will begin the first round of the postseason on Monday.

»»» Double-A Altoona outfielder Starling Marte is riding a 12-game hitting streak. His .312 batting average is sixth-best in the Eastern League. … Outfielder John Bowker was named Indianapolis’ player of the month. He hit .316 with seven homers and 20 RBI in July. Indy has gone 50-23 since Bowker joined the team on May 8. “He creates that presence in the middle of the lineup,” Indy manager Dean Treanor said. “It changes the whole complexion of our lineup.”

Lineups for today’s game:

Padres (48-64) – 1. Cameron Maybin cf, 2. Jason Bartlett ss, 3. Chase Headley 3b, 4. Jesus Guzman 1b, 5. Orlando Hudson 2b, 6. Will Venable rf, 7. Kyle Blanks lf, 8. Luis Martinez c, 9. Aaron Harang rhp (9-3, 3.76)

Pirates (54-55) – 1. Andrew McCutchen cf, 2. Garrett Jones 1b, 3. Neil Walker 2b, 4. Ryan Ludwick lf, 5. Pedro Alvarez 3b, 6. Ryan Doumit c, 7. Xavier Paul rf, 8. Ronny Cedeno ss, 9. Jeff Karstens rhp (8-5, 2.49)