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PIT@CHC: Maholm hurls 6 2/3 scoreless frames

Baseball will offer a dose of irony for Clint Hurdle on Thursday. On that afternoon, Hurdle will manage his first home game as Pittsburgh's skipper, and he'll do it against his former team, the Rockies -- the ones that dismissed him before the end of the 2009 season.

It's the type of story that writes itself. Even Hurdle will say that much.

"It drips with irony," he said. "I'll leave all that up to [the media]. It's perfect. Matter of fact, it's a layup. The irony of [Jim] Tracy managing over there and I'm managing over here. I haven't given it any more thought than that. You can't write this stuff up by yourself. Life takes care of things and sports takes care of things."

Hurdle's first eight years as a big league manager came in Colorado from 2002-09, when he went 534-625 and led the Rockies to their first and only World Series appearance in 2007 -- an eventual sweep at the hands of the Red Sox.

Forty-six games into the '09 season, though, Hurdle was let go after an 18-28 start and replaced by Tracy, his former bench coach.

Tracy led the team to a 74-42 finish and an appearance in the playoffs as the National League Wild Card team after taking over, then had the Rockies finish 83-79 last season. Hurdle, meanwhile, landed a job as the Rangers' hitting coach for the 2010 campaign and reached the World Series once again.

Now, the two will meet at PNC Park.

"It's a tradition-rich organization," Hurdle said about his new team. "This is the greatest opportunity in coaching and for a team. I just want to represent. I want to roll my sleeves up and work hard to help be a small part in turning this thing around."

The Bucs, coming off four straight seasons in last place in the NL Central, are off to a 4-2 start this season.

The Rockies, coming off a 7-5 win over the Dodgers on Wednesday, have won three out of their first four games and will now look to improve on last year's 31-50 record on the road.

"I think that what happened last season on the road is inexcusable," Colorado closer Huston Street said. "It doesn't matter where you're playing, it's baseball. The other team plays on the same field with the same dimensions, and if we play our game, we take the crowd out of it."

Rockies: Rogers looks to prove he belongs
Esmil Rogers will make his first start of the season after winning the fifth spot in the Rockies' rotation this spring.

The 25-year-old right-hander appeared in 28 games (eight starts) and posted a 6.13 ERA last season. This spring, he added a changeup to his electric fastball. Now, he'll look to stick in Colorado's rotation.

"Where the organization was a few years back with Ubaldo Jimenez, and where we were a couple of years ago with Jhoulys Chacin, I think that Esmil Rogers is progressing in a similar manner," Tracy said upon naming Rogers his fifth starter on March 24. "I made it very clear to him today that consistency is what gets you and keeps you in a Major League rotation."

Pirates: Second time around just as good?
Paul Maholm will look to continue a run of solid Pirates pitching to start the season.

After holding the Cardinals to one run on Wednesday -- thanks in large part to seven shutout innings by Kevin Correia -- the Bucs' staff holds a 2.60 ERA to start the season. In five of their six games, their starting pitchers have pitched at least into the sixth inning.

Maholm hurled 6 2/3 shutout innings in his first start of the season.

Worth noting
Jimenez was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday, as he continues to recover from a cuticle cut on his right thumb. He's eligible to be activated as early as April 17. ... The Pirates have unconditionally released 27-year-old right-hander Craig Hansen, a 2005 first-round Draft pick with the Red Sox who was part of the Jason Bay trade. ... Pittsburgh signed left-hander Dan Meyer and right-hander Tim Wood to Minor League deals Wednesday, assigning them both to Triple-A Indianapolis.

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