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Monday, May 30, 2011

Preview : 2011 Regular Season Game 53 - Pirates at Mets

Charlie has been tough so far
Pittsburgh Pirates (24-27) at New York Mets (24-28), 7:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Pittsburgh - Charlie Morton (5-2, 2.61) New York - Dillon Gee (4-0, 3.83)

Charlie Morton has been a pleasant surprise for the Pittsburgh Pirates this season and will make his 10th start tonight against the New York Mets in the opener of a four-game series at Citi Field.

Although Morton lost his most recent outing, he's still an impressive 5-2 with a 2.61 earned run average this season. Morton has never won six games in a season and was the hard-luck loser in a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Atlanta last Tuesday at PNC Park, where he allowed both runs and seven hits in seven innings. The right-hander was coming off a shutout at Cincinnati that pushed his 2011 road record to 4-1 in five starts.

Morton has faced the Mets twice in his career, one of which was a start, and he is 0-0 with a 2.57 ERA.

Pittsburgh didn't give starter Jeff Karstens enough run support in Sunday's 3-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs in the finale of a three-game series at Wrigley Field. Karstens allowed three runs -- two earned -- and seven hits in five innings to fall to 3-4 on the season. Lyle Overbay provided the offense for the Pirates with a two-run double in the first inning.

The Pirates were aiming for a three-game sweep of the Cubs, but lost for the fourth time in six contests.

"We're not disappointed. We went out and played a ballgame and they played better than us," said Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle after the Cubs loss. "We won the series. That was the objective coming in."

Hurdle could be without catcher Ryan Doumit after he sprained his left ankle in a play at the plate during the second inning. Doumit was in a walking boot and had crutches at his locker following the loss, and is scheduled to fly back to Pittsburgh for an MRI. X-rays taken during the game were negative.

New York is coming off a big win over rival Philadelphia and salvaged the finale of a three-game set with a 9-5 triumph on Sunday afternoon.

Jose Reyes had four hits, including two triples, and drove in a run, while Josh Thole went 3-for-4 with three RBI for New York, which won for the second time in eight tries and improved to 1-2 on a 10-game homestand.

New York starter Jon Niese gave up one unearned run, five hits and four walks while recording six strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings for the win.

"Our offense got timely hits and a lot of hits," Niese said.

The Mets, who will also host Atlanta for three games, are slated to send Dillon Gee to the mound on Monday and he's 4-0 with a 3.83 earned run average through nine games (6 starts) this season. Gee has won two straight outings and squeezed by the Cubs at Wrigley Field in Wednesday's 7-4 win, allowing four runs in six innings of work.

Gee, a right-hander, was coming off 7 2/3 shutout innings in a 1-0 win versus Washington and is 2-0 in five games (3 starts) at home this season. Gee threw six shutout innings in a 1-0 win over Pittsburgh last Sept. 13, but did not figure into the decision.

New York won six of seven meetings with the Pirates a year ago and has won seven in a row at home in this series. Pittsburgh's last road win in this series was a 7-5 triumph on August 11, 2008.

Mets outfielder Jason Bay will face his former Pirates club for the first time since he was traded to Boston in a three-team trade on July 31, 2008. Bay is the only Rookie of the Year in Pittsburgh history.

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