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Pirates besting West teams at historic pace

PITTSBURGH -- It is now part of Clint Hurdle's Pirates legacy that upon assuming the team's helm after the 2010 season, he came up with a dirty laundry list they had to clean up to become respectable.

Nothing drew Hurdle's attention more than the Bucs' historic ineptitude against National League West teams, to which his own 2003-09 Colorado Rockies teams had contributed. In 2010, the Pirates' 13-19 record had been typical.

Well, Thursday night's 4-0 blanking of the Giants perpetuated these Pirates' domination of the NL West to a record of 17-3, so that laundry is very clean.

"That number sticks out. I'm not smart enough to figure out why. But we have played good ball," Hurdle said. "We want to continue to dominate everywhere we go. And we're in a much better competitive place with the teams in the West."

The Bucs' record against the West is a big ingredient of the interdivisional pace of all of the NL Central teams. The five teams have a cumulative record of 151-107 against the two other divisions.

More significantly, however, the Bucs are on track to smash the current standard for best interdivisional record since three-division play began in 1994. The 2002 Yankees set the mark with an .806 winning percentage (29-7) against the American League Central. The Pirates are currently at .850 with 13 games to go (three more against the Giants on the current homestand, seven with the Rockies in home-and-away series, and three in Los Angeles).

"I can absolutely remember the time we would go into Los Angeles or San Francisco and lose three out of four pretty much every single time," said Neil Walker, one of the core Pirates who goes back to those lean years.

The Pirates swept the Giants earlier this season in San Francisco and have already done the same to the Dodgers in PNC Park.

"I don't know if you can take anything from it," added Walker. "But any time you're 17-3 against any set of teams, you have to feel good about that. Unfortunately, our record in the [Central] division has not been as good. Hopefully, that will change in the last several weeks."

Touching all the bases

• First: The Pirates' success against the West could be a family thing: They swept the Padres after Pedro Alvarez's father-in-law (Pat Murphy) became their manager and are 4-0 against the Giants, whose shortstop Brandon Crawford will soon become Gerrit Cole's brother-in-law.

• Second: Returning Buccos outfielder Travis Snider, signed to a Minor League deal following his release by the Orioles, and Corey Hart, beginning a rehab stint, both reported to Triple-A Indianapolis on Thursday.

• Third: The Pirates are on pace for 98 wins, which would match the modern club record set by the 1979 and 1991 editions; the 1909 Bucs set the all-time mark of 110 wins.

• Home: Francisco Cervelli and the Giants' Buster Posey began the game tied for MLB's top average as catchers at .309 and remained tight there after each got one hit.

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast.
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