A winning record at this early point in the season would mean little in terms of the overall direction of the franchise, but it would be a major benchmark in the eyes of many fans who are understandably annoyed with 18 straight years of losing.
Pedro Alvarez, who has missed the past several games with a quad strain, returns to the Pirates' lineup tonight - he'll bat seventh and play third base, while Brandon Wood, who substituted for Alvarez, will return to the bench.
Monday night's pitching matchup will feature Chad Billingsley of the Dodgers and Jeff Karstens of the Bucs. Billingsley had a 3.92 ERA with 38 strikeouts and 16 walks and is coming off an excellent start against the Chicago Cubs in which he allowed one run and had eight strikeouts over seven innings. Karstens was chased early in his last start against the San Diego Padres, allowing three runs in four innings.