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Surprising Pirates seek series win vs. Marlins
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Latest Line: Pittsburgh -145 O/U: 8.5
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The Pittsburgh Pirates, who continue to be one of the surprise teams in the first month of the season, can keep a streak of sorts alive with a win Sunday over the host Miami Marlins.

After pulling out ninth-inning, 1-0 win on Saturday, the Pirates have a chance to win the series, which would give them either a win or a split in each of their five series.

"We'd do anything to win for each other," Corey Dickerson, whose bunt single in the ninth inning drove in the only run Saturday, told AT&T Sportsnet. "The vibe is unbelievable. We feed off one another, and it's very fun to be a part of.

"It's being selfless. It's not about you; it's not about me. You never know who it's going to be. That's the cool part about it, you don't know who it's going to be on any given night. We feed off how good we are together. That's all we need."

Pittsburgh is 10-4 and leading the National League Central after being 6-8 through as many games a year ago. It is the Pirates' best 14-game start since beginning 1992 with 12 wins in 14 games.

Miami (4-10) is struggling through a rebuilding phase and sits last in the NL East.

Marlins CEO Derek Jeter, who came in with a new ownership group last fall, indicated this weekend that he is concentrating on the business side of things, including corporate partners and a fan base that has stayed away from games in droves.

The former New York Yankees shortstop and 14-time All-Star is keeping an eye on what's happening in games, too.

"I like the grit, the fight the team has shown," he said. "We're developing a winning culture. Sometimes it takes a little time. I like how the guys are at least going about their business.

"You at least let it go three or four weeks before you start passing judgment. I like the approach. Guys are battling, playing hard, but we've got to find ways to win more games."

Miami is scheduled to go with its No. 1 starter, right-hander Jose Urena (0-2, 5.06 ERA), against Pirates right-hander Ivan Nova (1-1, 5.19 ERA).

Urena has allowed at least one run in either the first or second inning in each of his three starts, including a home run to Ian Happ on the first pitch of the season on March 29 against the Chicago Cubs.

"I feel sometimes I'm like too loose, trying to get a feeling and get a tempo," Urena said. "I have to be ready to go."

Marlins manager Don Mattingly doesn't believe it's a big correction.

"I don't think he's doing anything wrong necessarily, (but) we've got to be ready to go in the first," Mattingly said. "That's always been tough for pitchers, that first inning and getting used to the mound. We just keep working to smooth that out."

Urena will be making his third career start and fifth appearance against Pittsburgh. He is 1-1 with a 7.31 ERA in those outings. Most recently, he was hit hard last April 28, giving up two runs and 12 hits in 4 1/3 innings of relief.

Nova, Pittsburgh's Opening Day starter, most recently ruined the Chicago Cubs' home opener Tuesday. In an 8-5 win, he gave up three runs and seven hits in seven innings, with no walks and six strikeouts.

It was Nova's 11th career start of at least seven innings without allowing a walk. Six of the 11 have come since the Pirates acquired him from the Yankees in August 2016.

Nova's only two career appearances against Miami, both starts in 2017, were wins in which he did not allow a run. That included a three-hit, 95-pitch shutout on April 29, one of those 11 starts of seven or more innings.

While the starters are enjoying a productive first month, the Pirates continue to address a struggling bullpen. The team claimed left-hander Enny Romero, 27, off waivers from Washington. Romero was added to the 40-man roster, and there will be a corresponding 25-man roster move once Romero reports.