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Bucs begin critical stretch away from home

Bucs begin critical stretch away from home

Bucs begin critical stretch away from home

DENVER -- The finish-line is drawing ever nearer, each win putting the Pirates that much closer to finishing over .500 for the first time since 1992.

But with less than two months to play and his team holding onto a lead in the National League Central, manager Clint Hurdle refuses to confront the final stretch with any sense of extra importance.

"Nothing's changed," Hurdle said. "We're going to take it one game at a time; we're going to prepare like we always prepared. This is the part of the schedule that we're in."

Friday, however, does mark the beginning of a critical stretch for the Pirates, who play 12 of their next 15 games away from PNC Park. Though Pittsburgh is one of just three teams in the Majors with 70 wins, 41 of those victories have come at home.

Through Thursday, the club was 41-20 in Pittsburgh and just 29-24 on the road. But Hurdle noted that the Pirates faced similar questions following the All-Star break, when they went 5-5 over a 10-game road trip.

And he knows the Rockies' potent offense has the potential to steal a few games in Denver, especially in the wake of Colorado's crushing 1-9 road trip.

"You're playing a team that can strike quickly," Hurdle said. "They have a very good comfort zone here offensively at home. The numbers scream at ya. We've got to pitch well; we got to catch well; we got to find a way to continue to show up on offense ourselves. So there will be a significant challenge here in Colorado."

Ian McCue is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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