After faltering at the end of a road trip, the Pittsburgh Pirates are looking to get back on track before a crucial series.
The Pirates will try to accomplish that feat by adding to their recent dominance over the Milwaukee Brewers in a three-game set that begins Tuesday night.Pittsburgh (76-54) won four of its first five games in California before falling twice to San Francisco over the weekend. The Pirates managed three hits in a 4-0 loss Sunday."We're looking forward to getting home for a while," manager Clint Hurdle told the team's official website.Pittsburgh will take on St. Louis, tied with the Pirates for the NL Central lead, in a three-game set starting Friday.First, the Pirates will try to extend a five-game win streak over Milwaukee (57-73) and earn their seventh straight home victory in the series.Pittsburgh, though, will face Kyle Lohse (9-8, 3.22 ERA) to open its six-game homestand Tuesday. The right-hander has gone 4-1 with a 2.05 ERA in his last seven starts and earned a 6-3 win over his former club, St. Louis, last Tuesday."I know we have a stretch here where we play a lot of teams contending for playoff spots, and I don't care who it is, it feels good to kind of hurt teams' chances," Lohse told the team's official website after giving up three runs over six innings.Lohse has gone 4-0 with a 2.89 ERA in his last seven starts against Pittsburgh but has not gotten a decision in his two this season. He gave up two runs over 5 2/3 innings May 14 before the Pirates rallied for a 4-3 win, and he was pulled after a rain delay in the second inning of a 2-1 road loss June 30.Lohse will pitch opposite a struggling Jeff Locke (9-4, 3.01). The left-hander is 0-2 with a 6.59 ERA in his past six starts and gave up three runs and walked four in four innings of a 10-5 win over San Francisco on Thursday.Locke has issued 14 walks in 18 innings this month."I've been throwing and missing on the corners a lot more, because I definitely don't want to miss (in the) middle," he told the team's website. "If I could go out there and pump the strike zone, I would. Sometimes, (I'm) giving hitters more credit than they deserve."Locke has gone 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in two starts against the Brewers this season. He pitched six scoreless innings and struck out seven in his most recent matchup, a 5-2 road win May 25.Carlos Gomez should present a challenge, as the Brewers outfielder has batted .397 with four homers in his last 16 games against Pittsburgh and is 3 for 6 with a home run and a double versus Locke.Milwaukee rookie Khris Davis is batting .432 with five homers and 10 RBIs during an 11-game hit streak.The Pirates' Jose Tabata is 12 for 23 against Lohse, the best performance of any active player who's faced Lohse 20 or more times. Tabata is 5 for 11 in three starts against the Brewers this season.Milwaukee took two of three from Cincinnati over the weekend after losing five of eight.
Marlon Byrd is having a career year, hitting .285/.330/.518 with 21 HR. Even if he can't keep up that pace, he's likely to be a significant upgrade on the Pirates right fielders, who have been among the league's worst this season.
Jeff Locke (PIT): 4 2/3 IP, 5 ER; in his last 6 starts, he's allowed 24 ER in 26 2/3 IP. He had allowed 29 ER in his previous 20 starts combined, spanning 121 2/3 IP.
Locke had a 2.15 ERA through his start on July 26. 6 starts later, it is 3.22.