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PIT@TOR: Hague blasts a solo homer to left center

Just one game in, and the Pirates' lineup Saturday against the Phillies could be starkly different.

Not that manager Clint Hurdle has anything against his Opening Day group, which faltered in a tight 1-0 loss against Philadelphia ace Roy Halladay on Thursday. But with southpaw Cliff Lee on the mound to follow the right-hander, it might call for some tactical tweaks.

Among the likely changes are the insertion of Matt Hague into the lineup at first base for his first Major League start and at-bats, with Casey McGehee also likely making his Pirates debut at third base. McGehee was traded to Pittsburgh from the Brewers this offseason for reliever Jose Veras.

Hague tied for the Major League lead in homers during Spring Training, with seven (Atlanta's Freddie Freeman and the Angels' Albert Pujols each also had seven).

"His spot is well-deserved," Hurdle said of Hague. "This kid can hit, and now we'll find out if he can hit here. I don't think any of us are smart enough to have denied him the opportunity to go ahead and take this next step."

The second game of the season-opening series between the two National League foes will be at 7:05 p.m. EDT on Saturday at PNC Park. Both teams have Friday off after kicking off the season on Thursday in Pittsburgh.

In the visiting dugout, the Phillies will be counting on the services of Lee to bring the defending National League East champions to 2-0 in the early part of the season.

In his return to Philadelphia last season, Lee went 17-8 with a 2.40 ERA, good enough to finish third in the NL Cy Young Award voting. He has racked up double-digit win totals in each season since 2008, when he set a career high with 22 victories in Cleveland.

The lefty went 1-2 with a 2.45 ERA in six Spring Training starts and said he felt like he was in midseason form already in late March.

"I feel good," Lee said after his penultimate Grapefruit League start. "I've felt like, in the last few outings, I could have gone 100 pitches or so. Basically, I'm right where I need to be."

Phillies: Rollins a fit in the No. 3 spot?
• Jimmy Rollins, who has been the Phillies' primary leadoff man the last 12 seasons, went 1-for-4 in the Philadelphia three-hole on Thursday against the Pirates. With Chase Utley and Ryan Howard both nursing injuries, manager Charlie Manuel could call on Rollins to fill those holes in the order.

Rollins has hit leadoff in 1,242 career games. After that, he's most familiar with the No. 2 spot, where he's hit 196 times in his career. He's a career .248 hitter with one homer and 21 RBIs in his career in the three-hole, where he has appeared in 68 games.

• Jonathan Papelbon, who was acquired this offseason after spending the first seven seasons of his career with the Red Sox, threw a one-two-three ninth inning on Thursday to earn his first save with the Phillies.

Pirates: Right-hander Karstens to make his season debut
Jeff Karstens will get the ball for the Pirates on Saturday after Friday's off-day. Karstens was arguably Pittsburgh's most impressive starter during Spring Training, posting a 2.12 ERA through four starts (he was 0-1).

In his last start, a 51-pitch outing against the Blue Jays on Sunday, the right-hander allowed just one run on four hits over four innings.

"I'm just in a really good place on the mound right now," Karstens said afterward. "In the middle of Spring Training, I think I was walking some guys, coming out of my delivery, worrying about things I shouldn't have been worrying about. We got the focus back, and after today, I'm in a place where I'm really happy about going into the season."

Worth noting
• The Phillies have endured great success over their five-year division-title run in the NL East but are still just 7-10 in Pittsburgh over that span, even after Thursday's Opening Day victory.

• The Pirates missed out on an opportunity Thursday to win their sixth consecutive Opening Day game, which would have tied the current Major League best. It was the club's first loss in an opener since 2006. Pittsburgh went on to start that season 0-6. Comments