Getting little or no run support appears to be an issue that's not going away for the Pittsburgh Pirates' pitching staff, but no one's had it worse than Erik Bedard.
Bedard tries to avoid falling to 0-5 on Saturday night at Turner Field, where the Atlanta Braves have had little difficulty putting up big numbers during an impressive start.The Pirates have plated 42 runs in 19 games -- 19 fewer than the majors' next-lowest scoring team -- so it's no surprise three of their starters rank among the NL's bottom 10 in run support.Bedard (0-4, 2.63 ERA) is the lowest among that group at 0.75, as Pittsburgh (8-11) has scored a total of two runs when he's been in the game. It didn't provide any offense during the seven innings he completed Sunday, when he allowed three runs and struck out seven in a 5-1 loss to St. Louis."All you can do is battle," Bedard said. "Runs will come and right now they're just not coming. You keep doing what you can and put zeroes up there."The Pirates have been shut out twice, and they'd been held to one run six times heading into Atlanta for the opener of this four-game set Friday. The Braves (13-7) made it seven, limiting Pittsburgh to six singles while breaking the game open with four runs in the seventh en route to a 6-1 victory.That ended the Pirates' major league-record 18-game stretch to open a season without scoring or allowing six runs in any contest.Atlanta has won 13 of 16 since starting the season 0-4, including six of seven at home while putting up seven runs a game. Michael Bourn has been the catalyst in the leadoff spot, posting a .524 on-base percentage in the Braves' last nine contests.To second baseman Dan Uggla, though, the offense isn't what's setting the tone."The biggest thing right now is our starting pitching," said Uggla, who had a two-run double in the seventh Friday. "If we've got a lead in the sixth or seventh inning, we'll always have a pretty good chance. We're getting some timely hitting, too, some good at-bats, picking each other up. That's the goal every day."After watching their first seven starters fail to make it more than five innings, the Braves have gotten a quality start in eight of their last 13 games.That's a trend Randall Delgado (2-1, 5.74) will try to continue, though he's yet to make it through the sixth in his first three outings. He walked four, hit two and one of the three hits he allowed over 5 1/3 innings Sunday at Arizona was a grand slam in a 6-4 loss."I thought Randall showed everybody a lot (Sunday) about his mental makeup," Uggla said. "He had a few mistakes that one inning but that was all they got. He really came out, bounced back and battled and gave us a chance to win the ballgame."Delgado has never faced the Pirates, who are 7-2 when they score more than one run.There's a good chance Delgado will be throwing to David Ross, and not Brian McCann, on Saturday. The six-time All-Star catcher left Friday's game with a strained muscle near his rib cage and is day to day.Pittsburgh leadoff hitter Alex Presley, playing his first game at Turner Field on Friday, went 2 for 4 to extend his hitting streak to 11 games. Six of his 14 hits in that stretch haven't left the infield.