Brewers-Pirates Preview

The Associated Press

After faltering at the end of a road trip, the Pittsburgh Pirates are looking to get back on track before a crucial series.

Acquiring outfielder Marlon Byrd and catcher John Buck could help.

The Pirates will try to accomplish that feat by adding to their recent dominance over the Milwaukee Brewers in a three-game set that begins Tuesday night.

Pittsburgh (76-54) won four of its first five games in California before falling twice to San Francisco over the weekend. The Pirates managed three hits in a 4-0 loss Sunday.

"We're looking forward to getting home for a while," manager Clint Hurdle told the team's official website.

The Pirates will have a few new faces after pulling off a trade with the New York Mets on Tuesday.

Byrd, 35, is hitting .285 with 21 home runs and 71 RBIs and will give Pittsburgh needed depth in the outfield while leadoff hitter Starling Marte recovers from a wrist injury. Buck, 33, is batting .215 with 15 home runs and 60 RBIs. Since the beginning of the 2010 season, Buck's 63 home runs as a catcher rank third in the majors. He is expected to back up Russell Martin.

Pittsburgh will take on St. Louis, which owns a one-half game lead over the Pirates in the NL Central, in a three-game set starting Friday.

First, the Pirates will try to extend a five-game win streak over Milwaukee (57-73) and earn their seventh straight home victory in the series.

Pittsburgh, though, will face Kyle Lohse (9-8, 3.22 ERA) to open its six-game homestand Tuesday. The right-hander has gone 4-1 with a 2.05 ERA in his last seven starts and earned a 6-3 win over his former club, St. Louis, last Tuesday.

"I know we have a stretch here where we play a lot of teams contending for playoff spots, and I don't care who it is, it feels good to kind of hurt teams' chances," Lohse told the team's official website after giving up three runs over six innings.

Lohse has gone 4-0 with a 2.89 ERA in his last seven starts against Pittsburgh but has not gotten a decision in his two this season. He gave up two runs over 5 2-3 innings May 14 before the Pirates rallied for a 4-3 win, and he was pulled after a rain delay in the second inning of a 2-1 road loss June 30.

Lohse will pitch opposite a struggling Jeff Locke (9-4, 3.01). The left-hander is 0-2 with a 6.59 ERA in his past six starts and gave up three runs and walked four in four innings of a 10-5 win over San Francisco on Thursday.

Locke has issued 14 walks in 18 innings this month.

"I've been throwing and missing on the corners a lot more, because I definitely don't want to miss (in the) middle," he told the team's website. "If I could go out there and pump the strike zone, I would. Sometimes, (I'm) giving hitters more credit than they deserve."

Locke has gone 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in two starts against the Brewers this season. He pitched six scoreless innings and struck out seven in his most recent matchup, a 5-2 road win May 25.

Carlos Gomez should present a challenge, as the Brewers outfielder has batted .397 with four homers in his last 16 games against Pittsburgh and is 3 for 6 with a home run and a double versus Locke.

Milwaukee rookie Khris Davis is batting .432 with five homers and 10 RBIs during an 11-game hit streak.

The Pirates' Jose Tabata is 12 for 23 against Lohse, the best performance of any active player who's faced Lohse 20 or more times. Tabata is 5 for 11 in three starts against the Brewers this season.

Milwaukee took two of three from Cincinnati over the weekend after losing five of eight.

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