The Pittsburgh Pirates' 2012 quest to end their losing ways is down to its final 10 games.
The Pirates must win six of their remaining contests to avoid a 20th straight losing season heading into Monday night's opener of a four-game road set with the New York Mets.
Pittsburgh (75-77) was as high as 16 games over .500 at 63-47 and well within reach of a postseason spot before resembling the team that has turned in baseball's worst record over the previous two decades. Its 19 straight losing campaigns are a record for North American professional sports.
"We're all in it together, whether you're up or whether you're down or whether you're sideways, we're all tied together,'' manager Clint Hurdle said. "We need to remember that."
There are still positives for the Pirates to build upon, starting with Andrew McCutchen. The All-Star center fielder is in position to win the batting title with a .336 average since San Francisco's suspended Melky Cabrera has removed himself from contention.
McCutchen has hit six homers in his last 14 games, but the Pirates have lost 11 of them to take themselves out of playoff contention. Pittsburgh won 8-1 at Houston on Sunday to avoid a three-game sweep to baseball's worst team.
Josh Harrison had four hits Sunday in his fourth start of the month. The Pirates had dropped the previous 12 games he had appeared in.
New York (69-83), meanwhile, swept three home games from Miami over the weekend after entering that series on a five-game slide. Ruben Tejada singled home the winning run with two outs in the ninth inning of Sunday's 3-2 victory and David Wright hit a two-run homer.
Wright now has 1,415 hits, moving him within three of tying Ed Kranepool's franchise record.
The Mets took two of three at PNC Park from May 21-23, although Harrison went 4 for 12 with three doubles and a triple in that set.
The Pirates will be out to improve upon their 2-9 all-time mark at Citi Field.
Pittsburgh rookie Kyle McPherson (0-1, 2.25 ERA) will make his second career start after replacing the demoted James McDonald on Wednesday and yielding two runs over 4 1-3 innings in a 3-1 loss to Milwaukee.
The right-hander, who began the year sidelined due to shoulder inflammation, could throw more than the 71 pitches he fired last week.
"I thought he was very resilient," Hurdle told the Pirates' official website. "He showed poise and battled very well."
The Mets will also turn to a right-hander in Jenrry Mejia (0-1, 9.00), who will make his second 2012 start and first since giving up five runs over three-plus innings as he was charged with a 9-6 loss at Milwaukee on Sept. 15. He worked a scoreless inning of relief five days later in his only appearance since.
Mejia's lone career start against the Pirates came Sept. 15, 2010. He gave up one unearned run over 2 1-3 innings in an 8-7 win before leaving with a right shoulder strain.
- Pittsburgh Pirates
- Clint Hurdle