Phillies ace Roy Halladay blanked Pittsburgh on Thursday. Cliff Lee followed suit on Saturday, allowing just one run in six innings.
The Bucs eked out a 2-1 win in 10 innings on Saturday, but the challenge on deck appears just as daunting, with Vance Worley (11-3, 3.01 ERA last year) on tap for Sunday's series finale.
Add in the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw -- assuming the reigning Cy Young Award winner has recovered from the flu in time to pitch against Pittsburgh on Tuesday -- and the first four starters the Pirates will have faced combined for a 68-12 record last season.
Pittsburgh's lack of offense thus far has forced the team's pitchers to be at the top of their games. And they have been just that.
Erik Bedard allowed just one run in seven innings in Thursday's 1-0 loss.
"He pitched very good, very efficiently," manager Clint Hurdle said.
Jeff Karstens followed up Bedard's outing with a solid start of his own, as he yielded just one run on five hits in six innings of Saturday's narrow victory.
Philadelphia's starters have matched wits. Lee surrendered just one run on two hits in six innings Saturday after Halladay held Pittsburgh to two hits in eight innings two days earlier.
"Halladay had a strong start," Hurdle said. "He was hitting the corners. It's what you expect of him, and we had to step up."
The Pirates will have another chance to step up Sunday, though Worley presents a third straight challenge.
Phillies: Manuel shuffling lineup with slow offensive start
The Phillies have scored just two runs in their first two games.
With Ryan Howard (Achilles) and Chase Utley (knees) sidelined for the foreseeable future, manager Charlie Manuel has mixed and matched to find the right formula for his batting order.
Manuel started John Mayberry Jr. in left field and Ty Wigginton at first base for Thursday's opener. On Saturday, he played Laynce Nix at first.
Veterans Juan Pierre and Jim Thome have yet to receive a starting nod.
"I think about [Thome] every day," Manuel said. "I'll play Thome when I want to."
Worley pitched well despite looking over his shoulder for most of the 2011 season. Injuries to other Phillies starters allowed him to keep his spot in the rotation, and he delivered, finishing third in National League Rookie of the Year voting.
Even after being handed a starting gig at the beginning of this season, Worley refuses to get complacent.
"It's no different," Worley said. "I'm not going to assume I have the job won. I'm going to have to continue to earn that spot."
Worley compiled a 1-3 record and 4.50 ERA in five Spring Training starts spanning 20 innings.
Pirates: McDonald looks to hone his craft
Last season was the first full Major League campaign as a starter for Pirates hurler James McDonald. Now the club is looking for more from the right-hander, who went 9-9 with a 4.21 ERA in 31 outings in 2011.
"He has an opportunity to master his craft," Hurdle said. "That's a journey he is embarking on now. Once all big leaguers get in a full season, they want to master their craft and be consistently good at what they're good at."
Last season, the Pirates were 15-22 in day games following night games, including a 6-13 mark at home.
Phillies outfielder Hunter Pence has five hits in 11 career at-bats against McDonald.