The high-powered offense that was expected to be a strength for Pittsburgh has eluded the Pirates. That is, except when they play the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Pirates look to beat the Brewers for a fourth time in five tries and send Kyle Lohse to a third loss in as many starts to open a season for the first time in his 15-year career on Saturday night.
After totaling five hits in back-to-back shutout losses to Detroit, Pittsburgh (4-6) had 11 in Friday's 6-3 home win over Milwaukee. Gregory Polanco had three hits and Starling Marte went 2 for 4 with a two-run homer. Marte was 0 for 11 with six strikeouts in his previous three games.
''We did a better job situationally,'' manager Clint Hurdle said. ''We had some two-out hits as well. It was a good night to get some momentum on that side of the ball.''
The Pirates managed two hits in a 6-0 loss to the Brewers last Saturday but have averaged 7.3 runs with five homers and seven doubles in winning their other three matchups. They're averaging 2.2 runs with five home runs and six doubles in losing five of their other six games.
Pittsburgh has had some success against Lohse at PNC Park and got the better of him last weekend.
Lohse (0-2, 11.17 ERA) allowed one run through five innings Sunday against the Pirates before serving up a three-run homer to Andrew McCutchen in the sixth. The right-hander ended up permitting four runs in 6 1-3 innings of the 10-2 defeat after being tagged for eight runs in 3 1-3 innings in a 10-0 loss to Colorado in the season opener.
"His command's not as sharp. But he'll get it," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke told MLB's official website. "The last couple (starts) weren't good, but this is getting closer to where we need him to be. At times he made some great pitches."
If there is any silver lining to Lohse's shaky start it is that although he has yielded 18 hits over 9 2-3 innings, he has yet to issue a walk.
Lohse, who last opened with back-to-back defeats in 2004 with Minnesota, has a 7.56 ERA in his last three starts at Pittsburgh.
McCutchen, batting .212 with three extra-base hits, is 4 for 10 against Lohse with a pair of homers and a double since the start of last season.
Like Pittsburgh, Milwaukee's offense is also off to a rough start. The Brewers are averaging 2.6 runs and have hit three homers - none by Ryan Braun, Khris Davis or Aramis Ramirez.
The offensive struggles are a big reason Milwaukee is in danger of its first 2-9 start since 2002. The Brewers didn't lost their ninth last season until May 1, their 29th game.
Davis had three of Milwaukee's eight hits Friday to improve to 6 for 14 (.429) against the Pirates this season. He is 5 for 21 (.238) in his other six games.
Davis, Ramirez and Jean Segura are a combined 7 for 49 (.143) against Jeff Locke, who gave up two runs and seven hits in six innings of 6-2 win at Milwaukee last Friday in his season debut. He improved to 2-1 with a 2.42 ERA in four starts against the Brewers since the start of last season.
The left-hander had a 2.97 ERA over his final 10 home outings of 2014, which included a 1.93 mark in two starts versus Milwaukee.