|Pirates' Bell streaks into series finale vs. D-backs|
Pittsburgh first baseman Josh Bell takes the majors leagues' longest hitting streak into the Pirates' Wednesday afternoon series finale against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Phoenix.
The Pirates cleanup hitter is smashing the ball, with six home runs, seven doubles and 21 RBIs during his 14-game run. Bell hit two homers in Pittsburgh's 6-2 victory Tuesday night, the first traveling an estimated 446 feet to center field and the second going 460 feet to right.
The Diamondbacks intentionally walked him in the ninth with a runner on second and first base open.
Bell has 39 RBIs in 39 games, and he already has matched his home run total from 2018.
"I felt like this for a couple stretches last year and the year before, but to have an extended period of time like this, (I'm) definitely in a good place," Bell told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Bell is hitting .421 (24-for-57) during his hitting streak. He went 2-for-4 in each of the first two games of this series. Wednesday's game will serve as the rubber match.
Bell will run into Arizona ace Zack Greinke, who has been superb after getting knocked around by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the season opener. He is 5-1 with a 3.16 ERA for the season; 5-0 with a 2.19 ERA in his past eight starts.
Greinke has allowed five earned runs total in his past five starts. Included in that stretch was a start at Pittsburgh on April 25, when he threw seven scoreless innings, allowing two hits, striking out seven and walking one.
The veteran right-hander is 9-4 with a 4.17 ERA in 14 career starts vs. the Pirates.
Bell is 1-for-8 vs. Greinke.
Pittsburgh welcomes back right-hander Chris Archer (1-2, 4.33 ERA), who was placed on the 10-day injured list April 27 due to right thumb inflammation. He last pitched April 26, when he gave up six runs and six hits in four innings in a 6-2 loss at the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Archer threw a 60-pitch simulated game on Friday.
He has made only two career starts against Arizona, none since 2016. He is 1-0 with a 4.70 ERA in 7 2/3 innings vs. the D-backs.
Arizona had won nine consecutive games against Pittsburgh, dating to last season, before being held to four hits in Tuesday's loss. The Diamondbacks were shut out through seven innings by Joe Musgrove before scoring off the bullpen.
"I was glad to see we got some things moving in a good direction late in the game," manager Torey Lovullo said. "Carson (Kelly) had the home run in the eighth and we had quality at-bats in the ninth. We were one at-bat away from getting their closer in the game. That was our goal at that point in time.
"It didn't happen, but we'll turn the page quickly."
Lovullo is searching for late-inning relief help, since setup man Archie Bradley has an 11.37 ERA in six appearances in May and has been taken out of a high-leverage role.
"The portion of that bullpen has some questions and there's no doubt about it," Lovullo said on azcentral.com. "I'm looking for guys to step up to get the job done and take control of some situations that exist."
Lovullo will look to mix-and-match right-handers Yoshihisa Hirano, Yoan Lopez, Matt Andriese and left-hander Andrew Chafin in the seventh and eighth innings.
--Field Level Media