Indians-Pirates Preview

The hot-hitting Pittsburgh Pirates can match their longest interleague win streak when they face struggling Cleveland Indians starter Trevor Bauer at PNC Park on Friday night.

Bauer, though, has often shined in interleague games and will try to lead Cleveland to a fifth consecutive victory.

Pittsburgh (45-33) completed a three-game sweep of Detroit with an 8-4 victory Thursday, its seventh in a row in interleague play. The Pirates produced 22 runs and 49 hits, including 17 for extra bases, in the series.

Neil Walker went 4 for 5 with three RBIs on Thursday and is 14 for 26 (.538) in his past six games. Jordy Mercer is hitting .469 in his last seven, and Starling Marte is batting .438 in his past eight.

"We're playing well. We've got a lot of confidence," Mercer said. "Everybody is chipping in. That's what makes it cool."

The Pirates had their only eight-game interleague win streak May 28-June 26, 2013, and will get to face a scuffling Bauer (6-5, 3.96 ERA) in the opener of a 10-game homestand. The right-hander is 1-3 with a 7.40 ERA in his last four starts, giving up four runs in seven innings in a 4-0 loss in Baltimore on Sunday.

Bauer was 4-1 with a 1.10 ERA in his first six road starts, including a 6-0 win over the Chicago Cubs on June 16. That improved him to 3-1 with a 1.71 ERA in eight all-time interleague games.

Bauer will face the Pirates for the first time as the Indians look for their fourth win in the last 15 matchups in Pittsburgh.

Cleveland (37-41) is coming off a four-game sweep of Tampa Bay, allowing four runs in the first three matchups before a 5-4 victory in 10 innings Thursday.

"We needed it. ... We needed to get greedy today," manager Terry Francona said. ''You win three, it's easy to go three out of four. Today, it was a hard one to win, but we have to keep going."

Mike Aviles hit the go-ahead homer and Jason Kipnis went 2 for 5, giving him a .376 average while hitting safely in 24 of his last 26 games.

Kipnis, who is batting .484 in a nine-game interleague hit streak, will face Charlie Morton (6-1, 4.28) on Friday.

Morton allowed nine runs and eight hits while failing to make it out of the first inning in a 9-2 loss in Washington on June 21 before beating Atlanta 8-4 on Saturday despite giving up four runs and a season-high 10 hits over six.

The right-hander has tossed 12 scoreless innings in back-to-back wins in interleague play as he faces Cleveland for the first time.

Michael Bourn has the most experience against Morton among the Indians, going 7 for 20, and will return from a one-game suspension Friday after being penalized for bumping an umpire in Texas on May 16.

No active Pittsburgh player has ever faced Bauer.


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