In the midst of his latest scoreless stretch, Jeff Locke has another chance to help the Pittsburgh Pirates continue their surge.
The surprising left-hander looks for a third straight winning start while trying to help the Pirates extend their season-high home winning streak to six games Thursday night against the Detroit Tigers.
Locke (5-1, 2.45 ERA) has not allowed a run in 14 straight innings and yielded six hits while overcoming five walks to win his last two starts. He went 15 consecutive innings without giving up a run earlier this season.
Since going 1-1 with a 5.17 ERA in his first three starts, Locke is 4-0 with a 1.47 ERA in the last six.
"You're seeing him grow up before your eyes," manager Clint Hurdle said of the 25-year-old Locke, who was 1-6 with a 5.82 ERA in 10 starts the previous two seasons for Pittsburgh (33-20).
He allowed three hits and struck out a season-high seven in six innings of a 5-2 win at Milwaukee on Saturday.
"That kid has good stuff. He doesn't miss many pitches," Milwaukee outfielder Carlos Gomez said. "You have to tip your hat to the good job he did (Saturday). That kid is going to be one that people talk a lot about in the future."
Locke makes his first appearance versus Detroit (29-22), which had won six of seven, including 6-5 at home over Pittsburgh on Monday, before dropping the last two in this home-and-home.
Neil Walker homered for the second straight night and Pedro Alvarez's two-run double highlighted a four-run seventh to help the Pirates rally from two down to win 5-3 on Wednesday. Pittsburgh has won 15 of 19 overall, and seven of nine at home over the Tigers.
"I don't think as a team we ever check out in the seventh inning," Pittsburgh outfielder Travis Snider said. "We've had a lot of late comebacks we've had a lot of great rallies off bullpens and starters late in the game."
The Pirates last won six straight at home during a seven-game run April 27-May 12, 2008.
Walker is batting .440 with three homers and five RBIs in six games since he went 1 for 16 in the previous five. He's batted .414 (12 for 29) with three home runs and six RBIs in his last seven against the Tigers after hitting .115 (3 for 26) in his first seven.
Detroit's Miguel Cabrera delivered a two-run homer for his only hit in five at-bats. Cabrera leads the majors with a .368 average but is 2 for 14 with five strikeouts against the Pirates this week.
Scheduled Detroit starter Doug Fister (5-3, 3.65) went 4-0 with a 2.38 ERA in five April starts, but is 1-2 with a 5.20 ERA over five in May. However, he allowed three first-inning runs and was solid the next six during Saturday's 3-2 loss to Minnesota.
"From start to finish, it's a constant battle," Fister said.
In the right-hander's only start versus Pittsburgh last season, Fister allowed four runs - two earned - and struck out seven in six innings of a 4-1 loss at PNC Park.
It's uncertain if Detroit's Torii Hunter will play after he was hit in the elbow with a pitch Wednesday.