Notes: Doumit swinging a hot bat
Versatile slugger has hit safely in 11 straight games
PITTSBURGH -- When the Pirates lost the opening game of their series with Atlanta, 4-1, on Friday night, it marked their 18th game scoring three or fewer runs. The offensive woes have plagued the Bucs all season and have forced manager Jim Tracy to tinker with his lineup quite a bit in order to get the bats jump-started.
Ryan Doumit has been one of the few offensive bright spots since he was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis on April 26.
Doumit extended his career-best hitting streak to 11 games by going 2-for-4 with a double on Friday night. In 13 games since being recalled, he is 21-for-44 (.477) with eight doubles, two homers and seven RBIs.
Doumit's hot bat has forced Tracy's hand.
"Obviously, [with] Ryan Doumit at .447, you simply have to play the guy," Tracy explained.
One key factor with Doumit is he is injury free this season after being sidelined with injuries to his left hamstring last year.
"He's swinging at good pitches," Tracy stated. "He's getting himself into favorable counts and he's getting a good ball to swing at, and when he gets it he puts it in play."
Doumit admits that he is in a groove at the plate.
"It's one of those things," Doumit offered. "There's no explanation or any rhyme or reason. It's just things are going all right."
Doumit was in the starting lineup for Saturday night's game with the Braves -- catching.
He is having a great time and taking full advantage of the situation.
"That's the key to this game, having fun," Doumit said. "When you're having fun, things seem to happen for you out on the field, and right now it's going my way."
Eldred starts: Brad Eldred was in the Bucs lineup at first base on Saturday night as Adam LaRoche got a night off.
"There is a lefty [Chuck James] going and we just want to get Eldred some at-bats against a left-hander. LaRoche gets a night off, but he'll be back in there [Sunday]," said Tracy.
Minor Matters: Double-A Altoona right-hander Luis Munoz will make his sixth start of the season in the nightcap of Saturday night's doubleheader with Harrisburg. The 25-year-old native of the Dominican Republic is coming off his best start of the season in a win over Erie on Monday. In that game, Munoz tossed seven scoreless innings and struck out a career-high 10 batters while improving to 4-0 on the season.
"I did not know much about Munoz coming into the season," Altoona manager Tim Leiper said. "In Spring Training you got a little glimpse of stuff, but nothing to prepare you for what he's doing now. He's gaining confidence every time he goes out there. The two-seam fastball is getting better. The command is getting better. The slider has really been a devastating pitch. His changeup is a better third pitch. Nothing really fazes him. He's confident when he's got the ball in his hand and he's getting guys out."
Munoz can become just the fourth pitcher in Curve history to post a 5-0 start with a win against Harrisburg. The best start in franchise history was 6-0 by Wilson Guzman in 2000. Two other pitchers have opened a season 5-0 -- John VanBenschoten (2003) and Josh Shortslef (2006).
The right-hander, who was originally signed by Pittsburgh as an amateur free agent in July 2000, is currently in his seventh professional season. Last season, he combined to go 10-5 with a 3.52 ERA in 27 games (25 starts) between Class A Hickory and Class A Lynchburg.
On deck: The Pirates and Braves conclude their three-game series at 1:35 p.m. ET on Sunday. Right-hander Ian Snell (2-2, 2.35) gets the start for the Bucs. Atlanta will start right-hander Anthony Lerew (0-0, 3.00).
George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.