Lance Lynn and Edinson Volquez are both winless in their last three starts, though one seems a bit more deserving of the barren win column.
They'll both try to correct things Saturday night in Pittsburgh as the Pirates try for a series win over the St. Louis Cardinals in the second of a three-game set.After Friday's 6-4 win, the Pirates (15-20) own a 10-3 edge in home meetings with the Cardinals (18-18) since April 17, 2013, including three of four this season.Second baseman Neil Walker went 3 for 4 with four RBIs to break out of a 2-for-27 stretch against St. Louis and continue a strong start to May, in which he's batting .375 with a .524 on-base percentage and 10 RBIs in nine games.Double-play partner Jordy Mercer also went 3 for 4 to interrupt a 3-for-39 slump over 13 games."I've been putting in a lot of time in the batting cage, trying to figure things out and it's nice to have some results because I feel confident now when I step in the batter's box," Mercer said. "Confidence is such a big part of hitting."Pittsburgh is now after a fourth straight win after not winning more than two in a row in the 32 games preceding the current run.Lynn (4-1, 3.51 ERA) won his first four starts and is now making his fourth attempt at a fifth victory. He probably deserved it in Sunday's 5-4 win over the Chicago Cubs as he allowed two runs on three hits in six innings, though he issued four walks. Control has been an ongoing issue as he's walked 14 batters in 30 innings over his last five starts."That's just part of growing in this game, and growing as a pitcher: knowing what your movement is, knowing when you're right, and knowing when you're wrong and how to correct it," Lynn told the team's official website. "You fight with that every time out, and the last two times, I felt it took a little too long to correct it."He hasn't faced the Pirates yet after struggling against them in 2013. Including a postseason start, he went 2-2 with a 6.25 ERA in six appearances, surrendering 16 earned runs over 13 2/3 innings in the last three outings.He's managed to hold Andrew McCutchen to a 4-for-26 clip in the regular season, while Starling Marte has been the most successful Pirate against Lynn with a 6-for-13 mark.Volquez (1-3, 4.19) has done more to earn his recent stretch without a win. He's lost three straight starts after allowing 12 earned runs in 10 2/3 innings over his last two.In Sunday's 7-2 loss to Toronto, Volquez yielded six runs on seven hits and three walks in five innings. Manager Clint Hurdle thought he was getting squeezed, but Volquez shouldered more of the blame."I can't think about that (not getting calls); I can't get down about it, need to just let it go and try to make better pitches," Volquez told the team's official website.The poor start before that came in St. Louis on April 27, a 7-0 loss in which the right-hander was tagged with six runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings. Jhonny Peralta went 2 for 2 with two home runs and a walk as Volquez fell to 3-6 with a 5.56 ERA against the Cardinals.Peralta also homered Friday and is batting .393 on a seven-game hitting streak to boost his average to a season-best .240.Matt Holliday is 9 for 24 with two home runs against Volquez, while Yadier Molina is 4 for 26 against him.