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Musgrove, Rodriguez square off in Pirates-Giants series finale

SAN FRANCISCO -- Two pitchers giving their teams an unexpected boost late in the season go head-to-head Sunday afternoon when the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants wrap up a four-game series.

Pirates right-hander Joe Musgrove (4-6, 3.41 ERA) and Giants right-hander Dereck Rodriguez (5-1, 2.34) are the scheduled starters when Pittsburgh seeks to win the series after having clinched the season series with a 4-0 victory on Saturday.

The Pirates have won two of three in the series, giving them a 4-2 edge in the season series.

With stamina a big concern for a reliever transitioning into a starter this season, Musgrove has come on strong in his last six starts. He has gone just 2/3 but has allowed two or fewer runs in five of the six outings, helping him accumulate a 2.43 ERA.

"The biggest thing I took out of being in the bullpen last year was getting back to that mentality of trying to get one out at a time and not thinking about your whole body of work over seven innings," said Musgrove, who made 23 relief appearances last season for the Houston Astros. "(Pacing yourself) makes you back off in certain scenarios because you're thinking about saving pitches for your second, third time around the lineup later on in the game."

Musgrove has allowed just 12 runs in the first three innings of his 12 starts this season.

The 25-year-old has never faced the Giants but would love to duplicate the effort of fellow right-hander Trevor Williams, who shut out San Francisco and allowed five hits in seven innings of Saturday's win.

Musgrove likely will find himself pitching to Elias Diaz in the series finale, as regular starter Francisco Cervelli had to be removed from Saturday's win after taking a foul tip off the mask.

Diaz responded by getting two of the Pirates' six hits.

The Giants' Rodriguez, meanwhile, has been even better than Musgrove of late as he makes a late push for Rookie of the Year honors.

He has gone 3-0 with a 1.28 ERA in his last eight starts, giving up two or fewer runs in all eight outings.

Like Musgrove, he has never pitched against Sunday's opponent.

Rodriguez will take the mound with far and away the best ERA (2.34) among National League rookies. Despite having just one win 2 1/2 months into the season, he has just two wins behind NL rookie leader Tyler Mahle (7-9).

He'll have to deal with Pittsburgh's hot-hitting Josh Bell, who celebrated the pregame retirement of Barry Bonds' No. 25 in San Francisco on Saturday night with the game's only home run.

The three-run shot in the fourth inning provided a majority of the game's scoring and also gave him five hits, including two homers and a double, in the series.

The clubs had traded wins in slugfests in the first two games of the series, with the Pirates winning 10-5 on Thursday before the Giants responded with a 13-10 win on Friday.

Saturday's shutout was the Pirates' first in San Francisco since 2014.
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