Through the first four games, things could not have gone better for the Bucs, due in large part to their first three starting pitchers -- Francisco Liriano, A.J. Burnett and rookie Brandon Cumpton -- all going seven innings. That made Jeff Locke's unusually short shift on Wednesday -- four innings -- manageable.
"We have been able to navigate without too many overwhelming challenges, knock on wood," Hurdle said. "So far. … Got one more game."
If the Bucs win the finale and complete the five-game sweep, they will take their place on a short honor roll. Some outtakes from that list:
• MLB's last five-game sweep occurred relatively recently, on Aug. 18-21, 2006, when the Yankees swept out of Fenway Park, outscoring the Red Sox, 49-26.
• The Pirates' last five-game sweep was from Sept. 12-15, 1996, in San Francisco; in Pittsburgh the Bucs had a five-game sweep as recently as Aug. 18-21, 1995, against the Marlins in Three Rivers Stadium.
• Conversely, the Cardinals apparently had never been swept in a five-game series, a disclaimer that is semantic at best: They were swept in a six-game series on Sept. 23-27, 1916, by the New York Giants.