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PIT@HOU: Morton strikes out Pence to end the fourth

Former Pirates manager John Russell returns to Pittsburgh on Monday as the Orioles' third-base coach.

The three-game series between the O's and Bucs -- which features a matchup of Jake Arrieta and Charlie Morton in the opener -- will mark Russell's first trip back to Pittsburgh since he was dismissed as manager on Oct. 4, 2010. In his three years managing the Pirates, the team went 186-299.

"I enjoyed what I did, and really believed we were headed in the right direction," Russell said of his time with the Pirates. "It's part of the game, it's part of the business. ... No matter what your plan is, no matter how young you are, or what your payroll is, the bottom line in the Major Leagues is [about] wins and losses."

With new manager Clint Hurdle, the Pirates have a 35-36 record. They were two games above .500 and had a four-game win streak before being swept by the Indians in a three-game series that ended Sunday.

"We played close to .500 ball at the end of the season. So you could see it," Russell said. "Unfortunately, it didn't happen quick enough in my case. But surprised? No. Because they have some talent, some good young talent. You knew the more they played, the better they'd get."

Orioles: Birds struggling on the road
This series is the final stop on a three-city, nine-game road trip for Baltimore, which began in Toronto. The Orioles are 6-14 in their last 20 road games, and have lost 10 of their last 13.

However, the O's are still doing better than last year away from Baltimore. Sunday's 7-4 win over the Nationals gave the Orioles their 12th road win of the season. They did not win their 12th road contest last year until July 10.

Pirates: Morton looking for consistency
Morton, who has never faced Baltimore, has won two of his last three starts, but has a 6.19 ERA in that span.

"I'd like to see consistency built over a longer period of time," Hurdle said. "I think at the end of the day, consistency is going to be his biggest challenge. He's at a very good place right now. We'll see where the season takes him. There will be more challenges along the way."

Worth noting
• With the Orioles in town, the Pirates will honor the the 1971 Pirates, who defeated Baltimore for that year's World Series title. The former players will be honored in a pregame ceremony on Tuesday, and will take part in various other events as part of the Pirates' celebration of the 40th anniversary of the championship. Comments