7:05, PNC Park, Pittsburgh. TV: Comcast SportsNet. Radio: WPHT (1210-AM); WUBA (1480-AM) Spanish

Pitching matchup: LHP Cole Hamels (7-2, 3.01) at RHP Jeff Karstens (3-4, 3.58)

HAMELS VS. PIRATES: Hamels is pitching as well as he has in five-plus seasons in the majors. His 9.4 strikeout-per-nine rate would be his highest single-season total since he struck out 9.9-per-nine in his rookie year of 2006. His walk rate (1.8-per-nine) and home run rate (0.6-per-nine) would both be career lows. And he enters tonight averaging 6.78 innings per start, just a hair lower than the 6.89 average he posted when he logged 227 innings in 2008. Hamels' last two starts against the Pirates have been gems: three runs and eight strikeouts in seven innings last July and eight scoreless innings with seven strikeouts in August 2009.

PHILLIES VS. KARSTENS: Karstens faced the Phillies twice last season, once in a July 4 start, when he allowed five runs with two strikeouts in six innings of an 8-5 Pirates win, and once in a May 17 relief appearance, when he allowed two runs with two strikeouts in 2 innings. Karstens has had the best production of his career this season thanks in large part to a 7.2 K/9 rate that is well above his career average of 4.8. But Karstens has always been prone to giving up home runs, and this year is no exception: in 50 innings this season, he has allowed 10 long balls.

FYI: The Phillies have lost three of their last four series at PNC Park, including 2009 and 2010.

NEXT FIVE

 Saturday at Pirates: RHP Kyle Kendrick (3-3, 3.18) at RHP Charlie Morton (5-2, 2.61)

Sunday at Pirates: RHP Roy Halladay (7-3, 2.56) at RHP John McDonald (3-3, 5.23)

Monday vs. Dodgers: LHP Cliff Lee (4-5, 3.94) vs. LHP Ted Lilly (4-4, 4.22)

Tuesday vs. Dodgers: RHP Roy Oswalt (3-3, 2.70) vs. RHP John Garland (1-5, 4.33)

Wednesday vs. Dodgers: LHP Cole Hamels (7-2, 3.01) vs. RHP Hiroki Kuroda (5-5, 3.50)