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ARI@LAD: Miley fans seven over eight strong innings

The Pirates and Diamondbacks might have their eyes set on first place in their respective divisions, but in a few weeks the two teams could be fighting each other for positioning in the National League Wild Card race.

After salvaging the series finale against the NL Central-leading Reds, Pittsburgh is hoping to grab some momentum with back-to-back wins. A victory won't be easily had against the D-backs, who have won four out of six in their attempt to gain ground on San Francisco and Los Angeles in the NL West.

The two clubs will clash in a four-game series at PNC Park that begins Monday. A couple of lefties will head to the hill in the series opener, as the Pirates send Erik Bedard to face Arizona's Wade Miley.

If recent performances are any indication, Miley will have an edge in the matchup. In his last outing, the rookie dominated the Dodgers, giving them just one run -- a solo shot by Mark Ellis -- over eight solid innings of work. He allowed three hits while striking out seven in the 8-2 win.

"He was phenomenal," D-backs catcher Miguel Montero said. "He kept the ball down. I would say he made one mistake, and it was the homer. But other than that, he just kept the ball in and out, up and down, too. He was mixing speeds pretty good and he never fell behind, it seemed."

On the year, Miley is 12-6 with a 2.98 ERA. His opponent, Bedard, doesn't own such serviceable numbers. The veteran brings a 5-12 record and 4.83 ERA into Monday's meeting. He was shelled by the Cubs in his last outing, giving up nine runs -- eight earned -- in 4 1/3 innings. Chicago took him deep twice in the 14-4 loss.

Monday's start will mark the 21st of the season for Bedard, which is a milestone he has reached just once since 2007. Although Bedard's 12 losses are tied for the Major League lead, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has appreciated his effort this season.

"It is encouraging," Hurdle said. "He's had to fight through some seasons, get shut down in others. I do remain optimistic that he's worked through the challenges he's had. It's all part of the cycle of the season. If he's healthy, he has an opportunity to fight back. I'm depending on his skills and experience to finish strong."

D-backs: Bloomquist might play in Pittsburgh
Willie Bloomquist could be available for Arizona's four-game set against the Pirates. The shortstop, who is battling back pain, has not played since July 29.

"What I saw [Saturday], it was his first day on the field," manager Kirk Gibson said before Sunday's loss to the Phillies. "I don't know if he's tentative, I don't think he's feeling a lot of pain. I just think he's still a little stiff. We'll see how he does it [Sunday]. I want to be right about it."

Bloomquist fielded grounders and took batting practice on Saturday and Sunday. He is hitting .299 with 20 RBIs this season.

Pirates: Homestand gives fans chance to see new players
Pittsburgh's current roster is significantly different from the one Pirates fans saw on July 25, the last time the team was in town. Gone are the likes of Casey McGehee, Drew Sutton, Brad Lincoln and Gorkys Hernandez. Here to stay are Starling Marte, Wandy Rodriguez, Travis Snider, Gaby Sanchez and Chad Qualls.

Since his July 26 call-up, Marte is batting .238 (10-for-42) with a couple of home runs. He's also struck out 11 times, and is still looking for his first walk. In two starts with the Pirates, Rodriguez is 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA. The lefty is scheduled to start Thursday.

Sanchez is 2-for-9 in three games with the Pirates, with both hits coming in Sunday's win. Snider has seen action in five games, going 3-for-15 and scoring three runs. He's still without a homer in a Bucs uniform. As for Qualls, the reliever threw a scoreless inning on Friday, striking out one batter.

Worth noting
• Pittsburgh finished a 10-game road trip 6-4. The D-backs are 4-2 in the midst of their own 10-game road trip.

• The two teams met in the first half of the season, with the Pirates taking two out of three at Chase Field.

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