The Pittsburgh Pirates faced a decision that most teams wish they had to make.
Having selected Jeff Locke to take the mound Wednesday night, the Pirates will look to rebound after the Philadelphia Phillies snapped their nine-game winning streak in the series opener.
Pittsburgh (51-31) could have gone with Jeanmar Gomez, who surrendered an unearned run in five innings at Seattle on Wednesday in his return from right forearm tightness. The Pirates have won all eight games that Gomez has started this season.
Instead, Locke (7-1, 2.06 ERA), who was scratched from Tuesday's game due to a lengthy bullpen session in Sunday's extra-inning win over Milwaukee, is scheduled to make the start.
"Jeff was obviously very aggressive in his bullpen, because he was going in to pitch the 15th inning," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle told the Pirates' official website. "He's been a very honest self-evaluator for us."
The left-hander has been outstanding of late, with a 1.07 ERA over his last eight starts. He has allowed 30 hits over 50 2-3 innings, while yielding only one home run during that span. He hasn't lost since his first start of the season.
Locke, who received just 32 runs of support over his first 15 starts, got a season-high eight runs his last time out and surrendered two runs in seven innings of a 9-4 victory at Seattle on June 25.
"Probably had the lightest stuff he's had all season," Hurdle said. "But at the end of the day, looking at his numbers, he still found a way to keep the game in check."
He did that and more in his only appearance against the Phillies on April 23, giving up two hits over six innings in a 2-0 win.
Philadelphia (40-44), which entered Tuesday with a 1-6 record and a .203 batting average in road contests against NL Central teams, received a spark from Ryan Howard. The first baseman, who finished June in an 0-for-20 skid with 11 strikeouts, had two hits Tuesday in his first game of July.
Delmon Young, meanwhile, continued his hot hitting on the Phillies' 10-game road trip. He was mired in a 5-for-33 slump before going 12 for 26 (.462) with nine RBIs eight games into the trek.
John Lannan (1-2, 4.83) looks to build off his first win of the season. The left-hander failed to win any of his first five outings, posting a 5.84 ERA, but was in excellent form Friday against the Dodgers. He allowed one run and five hits in seven innings as the Phillies rolled to a 16-1 rout.
"It was a good night,' Lannan said. ``Just to have that offensive production - I mean, you know it's always there. But just to see it happen, that was great for the team.'
Lannan last saw Pittsburgh in July 2011, while with Washington. He's 1-4 with a 4.53 ERA in nine career starts against the Pirates.
Pittsburgh's Starling Marte enters Wednesday riding a seven-game hitting streak, during which he's batting .361. His lone hit in five at_bats Tuesday was a single, ending a run of four straight games with a double and six consecutive games with an extra-base hit.
The Associated Press News Service
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