Pirates Start 3-Game Series

The Pirates are going to need all the help they can get when they travel to St. Louis to meet the defending National League champion Cardinals in a three-game series beginning Monday.

The Cardinals have outclassed the Pirates in recent years. In fact, St. Louis has won nine straight games against the Pirates, dating back to last season, including a two-game series sweep in Pittsburgh in April.

That is why it has to be considered a good sign that SS Jack Wilson and CF Tike Redman are starting to heat up.

"We're not a powerhouse offensively, and we really need everyone contributing to be successful, especially against a quality team like the Cardinals," Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said.

Wilson and Redman haven't made many contributions this season. Wilson is hitting .196 after posting a .308 batting average with 201 hits last season. Redman's average is only .217, and he has started less than half the Pirates' games after retaining his starting center fielder's job in spring training.

However, Redman had a streak of six straight hits over the weekend against Colorado, and he made his first start of the season against a left-handed starter on Sunday. Wilson had a pair of three-hit games last week. He also has gone 33 straight games without an error.

"It gets tough, especially when you're not even playing a lot," Redman said. "You feel like you're not doing anything at all to help the team. It's easy to get a little down."

"I've felt like I've been dragging the team down all year, and it's been frustrating after what happened last year," Wilson said. "It's tough day after day to go out there and do nothing to help the cause."

The two have taken different approaches in snapping out of their slumps. Redman has worked harder while Wilson has scaled back on his preparation.

"I've been in the (indoor batting) cage a lot, just working and working to try to stay sharp," Redman said. "I've felt pretty good about my swing for the past two weeks, but it wasn't carrying over into games until recently."

"I tried everything then finally I just threw up my hands up and said, 'The heck with it,'" Wilson said. "I quit taking extra batting practice and watching videotape. I think it cleared my mind."

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