Jeff Locke has done his best to prove he belongs in the Pirates' rotation for the long haul. Mike Fiers will try to do the same against Pittsburgh and Locke, starting Saturday.
Fiers will make his first start for the Brewers since April 6 after being demoted to Triple-A Nashville later that month. He has made five appearances in relief since returning to the Brewers on May 12, and will start in place of Kyle Lohse, who is dealing with elbow irritation in his right arm.
"Definitely with our pitching situation, not a lot of rest and the bullpen, I just want to go as deep as I can in the game and just give our bullpen as much rest as possible and keep us on the winning half," Fiers said. "The deeper I go, the better it is for the baseball team."
Locke has given up three runs or fewer in each of his four starts this month. He's 4-1 on the season with a 2.73 ERA.
While the Pirates' rotation has been strong, the bullpen has been manager Clint Hurdle's real luxury. Pittsburgh relievers led baseball with a 2.74 ERA entering play on Friday.
The Pirates also led the National League with 167 1/3 relief innings entering Friday, but individually, their biggest workers rank seventh (Justin Wilson) and 13th (Mark Melancon) in innings pitched.
"It's getting to know people and developing trust, so they'll truly tell you how they feel," Hurdle said of his bullpen management. "And then monitoring the innings, the pitches, the ups. Those are things we really focus on. We follow the parameters we have set up."
Pirates: McCutchen gets rolling
Andrew McCutchen is hitting .333 in the Pirates' past 11 games. He has five multihit games and 10 runs scored in that span.
McCutchen insisted he wasn't "locked in" earlier this week, but said he feels good with where his swing and production are right now.
"He's in a very good place, compared to where he was in the past. It's experience and maturity, good judgment. He's a unique talent," Hurdle said.
Brewers: Rotation needs a boost
The Brewers activated Tom Gorzelanny Friday after they sent Hiram Burgos to the disabled list with right shoulder impingement. Milwaukee has three pitchers on the mend right now.
The Brewers' rotation is struggling with injuries and performance. Brewers starters have a collective 5.28 ERA, ranking 27th in baseball.
"It's definitely a concern. It's always a concern," manager Ron Roenicke said. "Starting pitching, if you look at most teams, that's how you win. I don't want to say that the reason where we are [struggling] is just the starting pitching, because it's not. Offensively, we've had some dry spells, and when we've pitched well, we haven't hit the ball at all."
However, progress was made on the starting pitching front in Friday's 2-1 victory thanks to Marco Estrada's seven innings of one-run ball.
• The Brewers continued their dominance of the Pirates in Milwaukee Friday with a 2-1 win. Pittsburgh is now 7-24 at Miller Park since the start of 2010.
• McCutchen has three home runs and eight RBIs in nine career at-bats against Fiers. He hit a walk-off homer in the 12th inning on May 15 in a 4-3 win at PNC Park.
• Locke took a no-decision in the same game as McCutchen's walk-off blast, giving up three runs and seven hits in six innings of work --- his only career start against the Brewers.
Steven Petrella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.