Pirates aim to rebound against Mets

The Pittsburgh Pirates try to get themselves back into the win column on Thursday when they open a four-game set against the New York Mets at Citi Field.

Pittsburgh split a brief two-game set with the Seattle Mariners, but lost Wednesday's finale, 2-1.

The Pirates wasted a terrific outing from A.J. Burnett, who allowed just three hits. However, one of the hits he allowed was a go-ahead solo home run to Jesus Montero, as Pittsburgh fell for the third time in four tries overall.

Montero's blast was the only ball hit out of the infield against Burnett.

"It's the only pitch to a righty that came back over the plate all day," Burnett said. "You hate to look at one pitch, because then you start questioning yourself, and I'm not going to do that. I went out there with conviction."

Starling Marte had two hits and Andrew McCutchen had an RBI single, but the Pirates went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position and are just 4-for-38 in those situations over the last five games.

"It just seems that we've got to find a better answer," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Maybe it's our mindset but we're getting pitched tough. It's not like it's chopped liver we've been facing."

Hoping for a little more run support on Thursday will be lefty Jeff Locke, who is 3-1 with a 3.21 ERA. Locke did not get a decision on Saturday against Washington, as he allowed four runs (3 earned) and three hits in five innings. He also walked three batters in his team's 5-4 loss.

"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 lost his only other start against the Mets and was roughed up to the tune of five runs in 3 2/3 innings of that one.

The Mets, meanwhile, will turn to righty Dillon Gee, who has won two of his last three starts. Gee last pitched on May 1 when he beat the Miami Marlins, despite allowing four runs and nine hits 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."

Gee, who is 2-4 on the year with a 6.16 ERA, is 2-0 in three starts versus the Pirates with a 1.71 ERA.

New York also split a two-game set with the Chicago White Sox this week and fell in Wednesday's finale, 6-3.

Lucas Duda hit a solo homer and Ruben Tejada recorded an RBI in defeat for the Mets, who have lost eight of 11.

Jeremy Hefner (0-4) was roughed up early for New York, with all four of his runs allowed coming in the first three innings. He gave up eight hits and struck out five over six frames.

"If he continues to pitch the way he has the last three starts, we're going to be okay," said Mets manager Terry Collins.

New York won five of its seven matchups with the Pirates last season.