The Pirates hope Jeff Locke brings his command to the Big Apple. Otherwise, the Mets may take a bite out of the southpaw.
After two scoreless, victorious outings ran his record to 3-1 and lowered his ERA to 2.83, Locke lasted only five innings and threw 74 pitches his last time out as he struggled some with his control. Locke walked three and allowed four runs (three earned) before manager Clint Hurdle turned to his bullpen.
"I thought he was in and out of rhythm a little bit," Hurdle said. "I thought we had the best shot of getting out of [the sixth] inning with a lead by bringing in [a reliever]."
Locke had two starts earlier in the year in which he issued four free passes. He didn't last past the fifth frame in either outing.
Walks haven't been the problem for New York's Dillon Gee, who will oppose Locke in the series opener at Citi Field on Thursday. Instead, hits have been Gee's kryptonite, as the right-hander has surrendered 39 of them in 30 2/3 innings.
Even in his last outing, in which he earned his second win of the season, Gee yielded four runs on nine knocks in five innings.
"I wasn't really pleased with anything I did today," Gee said after the game. "I actually almost feel bad for getting a win."
Pirates: Welker promoted to bigs
• Pittsburgh recalled right-hander Duke Welker from Triple-A Indianapolis on Wednesday and optioned infielder Josh Harrison. Welker didn't allow an earned run in 16 innings with the Indians. He yielded only three hits and tallied 20 strikeouts. "I just know I'm here and have a good opportunity with a great team and a good group of guys," Welker said. "I'm just excited to be here. I don't know when it'll hit me."
• A.J. Burnett will avoid pitching in New York, since he started Wednesday's contest. Burnett didn't pitch in last September's four-game set at Citi Field, either.
Mets: Harvey continues to dazzle
• The Pirates will collide with Matt Harvey in Sunday's series finale. The right-handed phenom is 4-0 with a 1.28 ERA in seven outings this season after his latest showing, in which he held the White Sox to a measly infield single in nine shutout innings, while striking out 12. In 49 1/3 innings this season, Harvey has surrendered only 22 hits.
"It seems like every time we talk about this guy, it's something new," said manager Terry Collins. "Like I said before the game, one of the things about Matt is his delivery is so quiet and smooth. There's not a lot of hiccups in it, so for him to have an extra day may not matter.
"But to pound the strike zone like he did [Tuesday]? You just don't see young guys do that. You really don't. Not with a power arm like that."
• The Pirates and Mets have yet to clash this season. New York claimed five of the teams' seven meetings last season, outscoring Pittsburgh, 34-25.
• Pittsburgh's Jose Tabata has pounded out four hits in 10 at-bats against Gee. Andrew McCutchen, meanwhile, has mustered just one single in nine at-bats against the Mets right-hander.
• The Pirates are 3-12 all time at Citi Field.