The Pittsburgh Pirates will try to stay hot and the visiting Colorado Rockies will try to keep their heads above water when the teams open a three-game series Monday at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

The Pirates (11-4) lead the National League Central and have won or split each of their five series, thanks to Sunday's 7-3 win at Miami that gave them a two-game winning streak.

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Pittsburgh has homered in six of its past seven games, a total of 12 out of the park, and has been getting dependable starting pitching.

"The team's been good," said Pirates center fielder Starling Marte, who had his first career five-hit day Sunday, including a homer. "Everybody brings their energy to one another, and everybody adds something to the game."

Colorado (9-8) moved above .500 by pulling out a 6-5 win Sunday at Washington. Monday's game against the Pirates will be the Rockies' 12th road game of 18 total games.

The Rockies lost 6-2 to Nationals ace Max Scherzer on Saturday and faced Washington's No. 2 starter, Stephen Strasburg, on Sunday. They won't have to face Pittsburgh's top two starters, Jameson Taillon and Ivan Nova, who pitched the past two days.

In Monday's opener, Colorado right-hander German Marquez (0-1, 4.97 ERA) is scheduled to oppose Pirates left-hander Steven Brault (2-0, 3.46).

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Marquez flew through three scoreless innings in his last outing, allowing one hit with four strikeouts and throwing 31 of 39 pitches for strikes Wednesday against San Diego, but he then was ejected after a benches-clearing brawl. That left him frustrated.

"No doubt," Marquez said. "I was really throwing the ball well and felt like I could have gone deep into the game."

In Marquez's only career start against Pittsburgh last June 14, he picked up the win in a 5-1 game, pitching five innings while giving up one run and four hits with one walk and two strikeouts.

Colorado will be without All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado for the series. He will serve the final three games of a five-game suspension because of his participation in that same bench-clearing fight last week.

"We're without one of our best players, but we're going to have to absorb it, just like all other teams do that are without some of their stars," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "That's part of the game. We're going to have to pitch well ... and we're going to have to get some hits from the guys who are in the lineup, whoever they may be."

Pittsburgh could also be without a regular. Second baseman Josh Harrison left Sunday's game after being hit on the back of the left hand with a pitch. He will be fully evaluated back in Pittsburgh.

"We don't know if we'll be without Harrison," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "More will be revealed."

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Harrison was hit 23 times last season, the final time ending his season because a broken bone, also on the back of his left hand.

"Pretty frustrated," Harrison said.

Brault will make his third start and fourth appearance of the season. He moved into a starting role with Joe Musgrove on the disabled list. His last time out, he gave up four runs and seven hits with three strikeouts and two walks in a five-inning no-decision Wednesday against the Chicago Cubs.

In his only career appearance against Colorado, Brault gave up two runs, two hits and a walk in one inning of relief last July 22.


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