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Pittsburgh at St. Louis

Venue: Busch Stadium

The Pittsburgh Pirates have more significant goals than securing their first winning season in two decades, and a victory in their next game would also help them move closer toward accomplishing one of those feats.

While trying for their 82nd win, the Pirates will seek to pad their NL Central lead by getting past red-hot Joe Kelly and the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night in the opener of the final series between the clubs this season.

Pittsburgh (81-58) has already stopped its streak of 20 consecutive losing seasons - the longest in North American professional sports history - but needs one more victory to clinch its first winning campaign since 1992.

That season included the franchise's most recent division title. The Pirates head into this series with a 1 1/2-game edge over St. Louis (80-60) and three-game advantage on Cincinnati in the Central.

"We are trying to win every day," center fielder Andrew McCutchen said. "Every game is important from the first to the last. So we don't treat it any differently from any other game. We go out every day to win. That is what we are going to do in St. Louis."

The Pirates have won 10 of 16 meetings this season and took two of three at home last weekend. A.J. Burnett (7-9, 3.09 ERA) won the middle game of that series Saturday, allowing one run over seven innings in a 7-1 victory.

"That's a pretty good lineup, so I'm just trying to keep the ball down, get ahead ... then expand the strike zone a bit," Burnett told the team's official website. "But you can't let down against that lineup, because that's when they get you."

Burnett is 3-0 with a 2.59 ERA in five starts against St. Louis this season but has a 6.10 ERA in two at Busch Stadium. He gave up five runs in a season-low 4 1-3 innings in a 6-5 loss there Aug. 15.

Burnett will likely need a better outing Friday as he'll be opposed by Kelly, who is 7-0 with a 2.16 ERA in 10 starts since joining the rotation July 6.

Kelly (7-3, 2.82) is 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA against the Pirates during that stretch, and he gave up one run over six innings in a 7-2 victory in Pittsburgh on Sunday.

Kelly's most recent victory is among only two in the last eight games for St. Louis, and the Cardinals enter this series after dropping three of four in Cincinnati. They're batting .185 with 17 runs during that 2-6 stretch and had five hits in a 6-2 loss Thursday.

"It's the time of the season," manager Mike Matheny said. "There are times when you don't hit. This has lasted a little longer than you'd like, but that could be a sign that we're ready to click and take off."

Allen Craig, who leads St. Louis with 97 RBIs, will likely miss this series because of an ailing foot. The Cardinals, though, caught a break Thursday when X-rays did not reveal a fracture.

Matt Carpenter will try to make up for Craig's absence by improving his .400 career average (8 for 20) against Burnett. The second baseman is batting .391 (9 for 23) in five games this month and .407 (11 for 27) in his last six matchups with Pittsburgh.

The recently acquired Marlon Byrd is batting .417 in his last seven games against St. Louis.

Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
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Probable Starters

A.J. Burnett, RHP
2013 stats
160.0 Innings Pitched 95.2
7-9 Wins-Losses 7-3
3.09 Earned Run Average 2.82
57 Walks 36
172 Strikeouts 64
102 Pitches Per Start 93
Career vs. opponent
102.0 Innings Pitched 26.0
8-5 Wins-Losses 2-2
3.79 Earned Run Average 3.81

Joe Kelly, RHP
weather image  Sunny. Warm.
Hi TempLo TempWindHumidityPrecip %
TeamStandingsWLPct.GBL 10Strk
Pittsburgh2nd NL Central9864.60526-4 W 1
St. Louis1st NL Central10062.617-4-6 L 3
vs Joe Kelly
vs A.J. Burnett

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B. CumptonElbow
D. GuerraKnee
C. HartShoulder
G. HernandezShoulder
J. KangKnee
A. LamboFoot
J. SellersAchilles
St. Louis
C. MartinezShoulder
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Series Game Log
Apr 5CHCSTL 3-0Wainwright Lester 
Apr 7CHCPPD   
Apr 8CHCCHC 2-0Arrieta Lynn 
May 4STLSTL 10-9Socolovich Strop 
May 5STLSTL 7-4Harris Jackson 
May 6STLCHC 6-5Lester Lynn 
May 7STLSTL 5-1Lackey Arrieta 
Jun 26STLSTL 3-2Maness Grimm 
Jun 27STLSTL 8-1Wacha Roach 
Jun 28STLSTL 4-1Martinez Hammel 
Jul 6CHCSTL 6-0Lackey Lester 
Jul 7CHCCHC 7-4Arrieta Lyons 
Jul 7CHCCHC 5-3Wood Maness 
Jul 8CHCSTL 6-5Socolovich Strop 
Sep 7STLCHC 9-0Haren Lynn 
Sep 8STLCHC 8-5Hammel Wacha 
Sep 9STLSTL 4-3Broxton Richard 
Sep 18CHCCHC 8-3Hunter Maness 
Sep 19CHCCHC 5-4Cahill Wacha 
Sep 20CHCSTL 4-3Martinez Lester 
Oct 9STLSTL 4-0Lackey Lester 
Oct 10STL 5:37 PM EDT  
Oct 12CHC 6:07 PM EDT  
Oct 13CHC 4:37 PM EDT  
Oct 15STL 4:37 PM EDT