When the Los Angeles Dodgers last saw the Pittsburgh Pirates, it was a season-opening series between the two clubs at PNC Park, and it appeared to be a mismatch. The Dodgers were coming off back-to-back National League Championship Series appearances and a 95-win season, the Pirates were coming off their 17th consecutive losing season, and there was little reason to believe at the time that either franchise would stray from its well-established course.
More than three weeks later, the Dodgers have gotten off to the sort of start the Pirates usually have. And basically, so have the Pirates.
The four-game rematch at Dodger Stadium on Thursday night could be less than riveting, but it also could present an opportunity for the Dodgers to turn things around. For all their struggles this season, the Dodgers are 4-2 at home. And the Pirates -- despite having taken two of three from the Dodgers in that series in Pittsburgh -- still aren't very good. If nothing else, the first two games should offer the Dodgers a golden chance to revive their struggling offense.
On Friday night, Dodgers right-hander Chad Billingsley (1-1, 5.40) will try to build on Sunday's start at Washington, his best of the season. He will be opposed by right-hander Charlie Morton, who has lost all four of his starts this season, failing to get past the third inning in three of them, and has a 16.20 ERA.
Zach Duke (2-2, 6.11), the Pirates' ace who beat the Dodgers on Opening Day, has given up 14 earned runs in nine innings his last two starts. He will face the Dodgers' yet-to-be-named starter, either Charlie Haeger, Ramon Ortiz or Carlos Monasterios.
Dodgers right-hander Hiroki Kuroda (2-1, 2.36) will take the mound against Pirates right-hander Jeff Karstens (0-0, 2.70), who will be making his second start since being called up from Triple-A Indianapolis earlier this week.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.