Pirates hope Arizona heat warms up bats

Pirates hope Arizona heat warms up bats

PHOENIX -- Good pitching stops hot hitting. Does warm weather stop cold hitting?

The Pirates hope so, and will find out during this three-game series in the Valley of the Sun, where unseasonably "cool" meant a game-time temperature of 81 degrees Monday night.

"What I'm holding onto," manager Clint Hurdle said before the game, "is that getting out of the cold will help us get going. It's no excuse, but we just had three of the coldest days I'd ever spent in Los Angeles [during last week's Tuesday-Thursday series that opened this nine-game trip]. And San Francisco was chilly ... until Sunday. Sunday was beautiful!"

That was Hurdle's facetious reference to the Pirates beating the Giants that day, 4-1, to snap a five-game losing streak.

"I also looked forward to us just getting to a place that's easier on the eye," the manager added, referring to hitter-friendly Chase Field. "This has always been a comfortable place to hit. The background is incredible. Friendly gaps. One of the greatest places in the big leagues to hit."

The Pirates then came to the right place -- especially if their own pitchers don't mind. They came into Monday's game having neither scored nor allowed more than five runs in any of their first nine games -- the first National League team to do that since the 1968 Dodgers.