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O's vs. Pirates preview: June 13-15

In the final two games of their nine-game road trip, the Orioles showed that it's not always possible to come from behind to win. They fell behind by five runs each night and couldn't overcome the large deficit during either game.

Nevertheless, the road trip can be deemed a success. It's good that the Orioles were able to post a 5-4 record in a trip that included stops in Minnesota, Toronto and Boston.

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Now they'll return home to play six interleague games against teams from the National League Central. They'll host the Pittsburgh Pirates for three games beginning Friday and then welcome the Houston Astros – and shortstop Miguel Tejada – into the city for a three-games series starting on Tuesday.

Like the Orioles, Pittsburgh wasn't expected to have much success this season. Despite currently being tied for fourth place in the six-team NL Central division, the Pirates are only a game below .500 (33-34).

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They concluded a 10-game homestand by defeating the Washington Nationals on Thursday, 7-5. The Pirates won six games during that stretch. Catcher Ryan Doumit was 2-for-3 during Thursday's game with a home run and three RBIs.

Pitching matchups

Friday 6/13: Brian Burres (4-5, 4.96) vs. Phil Dumatrait (3-3, 3.44)

Saturday 6/14: Radhames Liz (1-0, 3.48) vs. Zach Duke (4-4, 4.10)

Sunday 6/15: Daniel Cabrera (5-2, 4.35) vs. Paul Maholm (4-5, 4.55)

Who you should play from the Pirates

Ryan Doumit, C – The Pirates catcher was off to a quick start before fracturing his left thumb on May 13. Doumit was activated from the disabled list on June 5 and he was only 1-for-12 in the first three games after his return. However, he was 9-for-11 with four home runs, seven RBIs and five runs scored in the three-game series against the Nationals. Despite missing almost a month of action with the injured thumb, Doumit is now hitting .358 with eight home runs, 19 RBIs and 25 runs scored. It looks like he's almost fully recovered, so make sure to get him back in your starting lineup as soon as possible.

Who you should bench from the Pirates

Adam LaRoche, 1B – It's hard to figure out what's wrong with the 28-year-old first baseman. While his power numbers have gradually declined over the last three seasons – 32 in 2006, 21 in 2007 and only six so far in 2008 – the most significant drop has been in his batting average. Although his career batting average is .267, LaRoche is only hitting .213 in 62 games this season. Including a 3-for-4 performance against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday, LaRoche is 7-for-51 with no home runs and only one RBI since May 28.

Who you should play from the Orioles

Brian Roberts, 2B – Is there anyone in Baltimore who is still angry that the Orioles didn't complete the rumored trade that would have sent Roberts to the Atlanta Braves for LaRoche before the 2007 season? LaRoche was eventually sent to the Pirates in a deal for left-handed reliever Mike Gonzalez and minor league shortstop Brent Lillibridge. Despite an up-and-down performance so far in 2008, Roberts continues to be one of the league's best leadoff hitters and LaRoche's value has dropped significantly. Roberts is hitting .319 with seven doubles, six RBIs and six runs scored in June. In 119 career games against the National League, the second baseman has a .299 batting average with 46 RBIs, 65 runs scored and 16 stolen bases.

Who you should bench from the Orioles

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Daniel Cabrera, RHP – It might be a good idea to sit Cabrera for his start on Sunday if you still have him on your fantasy team. In 14 interleague games (13 starts) in his career, Cabrera is 2-9 with a 6.25 ERA. The right-handed pitcher has struggled in his past two starts. In those two games, he surrendered 12 runs in 11 innings pitched (9.82 ERA). Earlier this season, Cabrera looked like he might become a solid fantasy starter. Now it looks like he might be close to reverting to his old form again.

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