On The Right Track

The Pittsburgh Pirates have a long way to go to record their first winning season in 16 years, but they're on the right track.

The Pirates look to win their fifth straight game when they continue their three-game road series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Los Angeles -165 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 9 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 69% of bets for this game have been placed on Los Angeles -165 (View MLB Bet Percentages). Bet this game.

Down by one run with two outs in the top of the ninth inning on Monday, leadoff hitter Nate McLouth belted a three-run homer off Los Angeles closer Takashi Saito to propel Pittsburgh to a stunning 6-4 victory.

"It doesn't matter how we won the game. It just happened to be that way tonight,'' said McLouth, who extended his season-opening hitting streak to 13 games when he homered. "We're not going to win on a lot of three-run home runs, but it's a great way to kick off a road trip."

The Pirates (7-6) have won four straight to move above .500 for the first time since they were 2-1 on April 3.

Pittsburgh, which has not had a winning season since its last playoff appearance in 1992, has not been two games above .500 later than the first week of the season since it was 7-5 on April 18, 2004.

The Pirates are looking to match their longest winning streak from all of last season, a five-game run from April 22-27.

Third baseman Jose Bautista added a two-run homer in the series opener. He is 4-for-5 versus the Dodgers' Hong-Chih Kuo (0-0, 0.00 ERA), who will make his first start in nearly two weeks on Tuesday.

Kuo, who has pitched 6 2-3 scoreless innings over two appearances this season, is replacing the ineffective Esteban Loaiza place in the Dodgers' starting rotation.

The left-hander's other start this season - on April 2 - came in unusual circumstances. With the threat of inclement weather, Los Angeles (5-8) manager Joe Torre decided to start Kuo instead of Chad Billingsley. Kuo allowed one hit and three walks in three scoreless innings of a 2-1 loss.

In two career starts against the Pirates, Kuo is 0-2 with a 6.30 ERA.

Los Angeles has lost two straight games and six of its last eight.

Dodgers center fielder Andruw Jones got just his second extra-base hit of the season Monday on a ball Pittsburgh right fielder Xavier Nady misplayed into a triple. Jones, who signed a two-year, $36.2 million free-agent contract on Feb. 28, is only 5-for-44 (.114) with two RBIs and 14 strikeouts in 2007.

"We've only got a small sampling, even though it's a hell of a dry spell for him, and I know he's fighting it,'' Torre said. "The thing about Andruw is the fact that you signed him, and you signed him for a reason."

Jones is batting .300 (6-for-20) with a homer and two doubles lifetime against Tuesday's scheduled Pirates starter Matt Morris (0-1, 5.25).

Morris gave up seven runs - four earned - and 11 hits in seven innings of a 7-3 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Thursday.

The right-hander is 4-5 with a 5.40 ERA in 13 career starts against the Dodgers.

by: Dave Michaels - thespread.com – Email Us

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