X Marks the Spot

Xavier Nady likes facing the Washington Nationals. The Pittsburgh Pirates are enjoying the results.

The Pirates' right fielder looks to deliver another big effort against the Nationals when the teams continue their three-game series on Wednesday night at RFK Stadium.

Nady is batting .389 (21-for-54) in his career versus the Nationals' franchise - his best mark against any NL opponent.

Oddsmakers have made Pittsburgh -105 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 9 total runs (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 51% of bets for this game have been placed on Pittsburgh -105 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

He maintained that success by doubling in three runs and adding a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded to lead Pittsburgh to a 7-6 victory on Tuesday.

"I came up and got the timely hit, but you got to give credit to the guys before me," Nady said. "We needed that to kind of give us a little cushion, because we had been scuffling when we've had the opportunities."

Nady is 4-for-6 with nine RBIs with the bases loaded this season and is hitting .304 on the road as compared to his .250 home average.

Pittsburgh (25-33) won for just the second time in seven games and snapped a streak of six consecutive losses in one-run games. Jack Wilson and Ronny Paulino homered for the Pirates, who have won four of their last five road games.

To continue that success, they'll need starter Zach Duke (2-6, 5.73 ERA) to turn around his dismal year. The left-hander gave up five runs and eight hits over six innings in a 5-4 defeat to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday and batters are hitting .349 against him - the worst mark in the majors.

Despite Duke's struggles, manager Jim Tracy hasn't lost faith in him.

"If I'm Zach, I want him to know we still have the confidence in him," Tracy told the Pirates' official Web site. "Even without his best stuff, he battles, he goes out there, he does the best he can to try and keep you in the game."

Duke is 1-1 with a 6.17 ERA in two career starts versus the Nationals (23-35).

The Nationals have lost three straight to fall to 2-5 on their nine-game homestand. Shortstop Cristian Guzman, however, is hitting .538 (14-for-26) over the last six games after going 2-for-5 on Tuesday.

Washington's starters have posted a dismal 11.08 ERA over the last three games, with none managing to get through the fifth inning. Micah Bowie (2-2, 4.11) will try to reverse that trend when he takes the mound.

The left-hander began the season in the bullpen before joining the starting rotation on May 20. He improved to 2-0 with a 4.61 ERA in three starts with his second straight victory by allowing three runs and three hits over a season-high 5 1-3 innings in an 11-4 win over the Dodgers on Thursday.

"I always enjoyed starting," Bowie told the Nationals' official Web site. "Hopefully we keep having success with it and get deeper and deeper into the game. The big thing is not to burn the bullpen. They have been doing one heck of a job all year."

Bowie is 1-0 with a 4.26 ERA in two career games versus the Pirates, but has not made a start against them since 1999 while with the Chicago Cubs.

by: Dave Michaels - thespread.com – Email Us

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