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New York at Pittsburgh

Venue: PNC Park
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The Pittsburgh Pirates' offense finally got in gear to back up another brilliant starting pitching performance.

Getting anything going against Jeremy Hefner could prove to be far more difficult.

The Pirates will try to win back-to-back games for the first time in nearly two weeks Friday night against a resurgent New York Mets team going for its first five-game road winning streak in nearly two years.

Limited to six runs while losing four straight - and the NL Central lead to St. Louis - Pittsburgh (54-36) pounded out 12 hits in Wednesday's 5-0 victory over AL West-leading Oakland.

The Pirates' 5-for-9 effort with runners in scoring position was a welcome change - the team is batting just .232 in those situations - but Francisco Liriano continued what's been a dominant run of Pittsburgh starts with seven strong innings. The Pirates, owners of the majors' best ERA at 3.09, have had just one starter in the last 25 games give up more than three runs.

That happened the last time Charlie Morton (1-2, 3.38 ERA) took the ball.

Making his fifth start since coming off the DL following right elbow surgery, the right-hander made it through six innings for the first time but surrendered a pair of two-run homers in Saturday's 4-1 road loss to the Cubs.

"What I need to do and what I do well usually is keep the ball in the park and I didn't do that,'' said Morton, who hadn't allowed a homer in his first four starts.

Morton, 0-2 with a 7.36 ERA in two home starts against New York, will face a Mets team that's eyeing a season high-tying fifth consecutive victory after finishing off a three-game sweep with Wednesday's 7-2 win at San Francisco.

Marlon Byrd homered for the second straight game, Daniel Murphy and John Buck each drove in a pair while All-Star third baseman David Wright extended his hitting streak to 11 games.

The Mets (40-48) are averaging 6.8 runs while winning five of six on their trip. Their last five-game road winning streak was July 25-29, 2011.

Hefner (4-6, 3.39) could help New York equal that run considering the way he's been dealing. After going 0-5 with a 4.50 ERA in his first seven starts, Hefner has a major league-best 1.64 ERA since June 4.

He's yielded one earned run in six of seven starts during that stretch.

"We made a mechanical adjustment a couple months ago, toward the end of May," Hefner told the Mets' official website after striking out a career high-tying eight and throwing seven innings of one-run ball in Sunday's 2-1 win over Milwaukee. "I have a little more deceptiveness, and the velocity's gone up a little bit. Playing great defense and we're scoring runs."

Hefner didn't need much support in his only previous outing against Pittsburgh, going seven innings in a 6-0 home win Sept. 26.

The Mets were outscored 21-7 by the visiting Pirates while losing the last three of a four-game series in May.

Third baseman Pedro Alvarez, 6 for 11 with a homer and four RBIs in those contests, is batting .343 with three home runs and seven RBIs as Pittsburgh has dropped six of nine since ending June on a nine-game winning streak. Alvarez, among the NL home run leaders with 23, was left off the Home Run Derby roster by Wright, the league's captain.

Fellow All-Star Andrew McCutchen, who's batting .406 this month, drove in half of the Pirates' eight runs as they dropped two of three in the Mets' last visit May 21-23, 2012.

Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
 
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Probable Starters

Jeremy Hefner, RHP
2013 stats
101.0 Innings Pitched 24.0
4-6 Wins-Losses 1-2
3.39 Earned Run Average 3.38
28 Walks 9
79 Strikeouts 18
93 Pitches Per Start 73
Career vs. opponent
7.0 Innings Pitched 24.0
1-0 Wins-Losses 0-2
0.00 Earned Run Average 4.50

Charlie Morton, RHP
Weather
weather image  Partly sunny. Warm.
Hi TempLo TempWindHumidityPrecip %
80°F59°F8mph/NE54%27%
Standings
TeamStandingsWLPct.GBL 10Strk
NY Mets1st NL East93.750-8-2 W 7
Pittsburgh3rd NL Central56.4552 ½ 5-5 W 2
BATTER VS. PITCHER (Career)
vs Charlie Morton
PlayerABHHRBBSOAVG
Nieuwenhuis220001.000
Davis52010.400
Buck31001.333
Murphy102001.200
Wright71000.143
 
BATTER VS. PITCHER (Career)
vs Jeremy Hefner
PlayerABHHRBBSOAVG
Alvarez32001.667
Marte31001.333
Cole000000
Gomez000000
Grilli000000
 

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Injuries
NY Mets
PlayerInjury
V. BlackShoulder
J. EdginElbow
J. MejiaSuspension
B. ParnellHamstring
C. PuelloBack
Z. WheelerElbow, finger
D. WrightHamstring
Pittsburgh
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B. CumptonElbow
C. MortonHip
J. SellersAchilles
 
Series Game Log
DateatResult/TimeWinnerLoser
Apr 10MILPIT 6-2Locke Fiers 
Apr 11MILMIL 6-0Nelson Worley 
Apr 12MILPIT 10-2Sadler Lohse 
Apr 17PITPIT 6-3Worley Nelson 
Apr 18PITPIT 6-2Locke Lohse 
Apr 19PIT 1:35 PM EDT  
Jun 8PIT 7:05 PM EDT  
Jun 9PIT 7:05 PM EDT  
Jun 10PIT 7:05 PM EDT  
Jul 17MIL 8:10 PM EDT  
Jul 18MIL 7:10 PM EDT  
Jul 19MIL 2:10 PM EDT  
Sep 1MIL 8:10 PM EDT  
Sep 2MIL 8:10 PM EDT  
Sep 3MIL 7:20 PM EDT  
Sep 10PIT 7:05 PM EDT  
Sep 11PIT 7:05 PM EDT  
Sep 12PIT 7:05 PM EDT  
Sep 13PIT 1:35 PM EDT