Mets-Pirates Preview

The New York Mets rested their young ace ahead of the All-Star

game.

The Pittsburgh Pirates didn’t have a choice in skipping Jeff

Locke.

With Locke sidelined due to a back injury, the Pirates will turn

to rookie Gerrit Cole as they try to enter the All-Star break with

their longest winning streak over the New York Mets in 21 years

Sunday.

The Mets (40-50) opted to skip Matt Harvey’s turn in the

rotation, making him available to pitch – and potentially start –

Tuesday’s All-Star game at Citi Field.

The Pirates (56-36) aren’t afforded the same luxury. Locke will

miss his scheduled start Sunday and is out of the Midsummer Classic

thanks to discomfort in his back suffered during Monday’s 2-1 loss

to Oakland.

The left-hander is 8-2 and his 2.15 ERA is second in the majors

behind the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw (1.98).

“The only thing I’m disappointed about is not being able to go

(Sunday),” Locke said. “It’s not one of those things where I can’t

go (Sunday) but I can go in the All-Star game. I think it’d be

disrespectful to the team. I don’t think it’s even questionable …

I’ll just go there and enjoy it and come back after the break.”

Now, Cole (4-2, 3.68 ERA) will fill in for Locke and try to help

Pittsburgh to its first six-game win streak against the Mets since

a seven-game run in 1992.

The Pirates are tied with St. Louis atop the NL Central, and

already assured of their best record at the break since 1975 after

rallying for a 4-2 win over New York on Saturday.

“We just want to continue to keep rolling,” center fielder

Andrew McCutchen said.

Cole, though, is 0-2 with a 3.65 ERA in two starts this month.

The only runs the 22-year-old right-hander gave up Tuesday over a

season-best seven innings came on a two-run homer by Oakland’s

Brandon Moss in a 2-1 loss.

McCutchen, one of four Pirates named to the All-Star team, is

batting .392 over the past 14 games after hitting a solo homer

before connecting for a go-ahead single in the seventh

Saturday.

The star center fielder has a .362 average in 14 career home

games against New York.

After skipping Harvey’s scheduled start Saturday, the Mets are

expected to turn to Dillon Gee (6-7, 4.60), who is 2-0 with a 1.73

ERA in four career starts versus the Pirates.

The right-hander limited them to one run over five innings at

Citi Field on May 9, but hit two batters and threw 101 pitches

before departing in the Mets’ 3-2 walkoff win.

Gee earned an 8-1 victory in his only visit to Pittsburgh on

June 10, 2011, yielding one run and eight hits in eight

innings.

He wasn’t nearly that sharp Tuesday at San Francisco,

surrendering five runs and a season-high five walks in 6 2-3

innings while not getting a decision in a 10-6 win.

Mets’ All-Star David Wright went 0 for 5 with two strikeouts

Saturday to end his 12-game hitting streak.