Mets

Sweep Of Pirates Would Lift Mets Over .500

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Mike Pelfrey

Mets right-hander Mike Pelfrey (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (AP) – The Pittsburgh Pirates’ dreadful season is reaching historic levels on the road. It’s not likely to get much better against the surging New York Mets.

The Pirates will try to avoid being swept in a four-game series by the Mets for the first time in more than 13 years on Thursday night.

Pittsburgh (48-97) is 15-58 on the road after a pair of costly errors led to five unearned runs in an 8-7 loss Wednesday. The 1963 Mets hold the major league record for worst road record in a 162-game season at 17-64.

Already well assured of an 18th straight losing season, the Pirates are also headed towards their first 100-loss campaign since 2001. After concluding this series, Pittsburgh opens a nine-game homestand Arizona on Friday in a matchup of the NL’s two worst teams.

First, the Pirates look to avoid a four-game sweep at the hands of the Mets for the first time since June 16-22, 1997 at Shea Stadium. Pittsburgh is 1-5 versus New York this year, and has dropped 16 of its last 21 in Queens.

Relying on Charlie Morton (1-11, 9.05) to help them win may not be ideal.

Making his first career start against the Mets, Morton is 0-7 with an 11.38 ERA on the road this year. The right-hander is 0-6 with an 8.04 ERA in seven starts since beating the Cubs on May 5.

Morton showed some improvement Saturday, yielding three runs in 6 1-3 innings of a 5-4, 10-inning win over NL Central-leading Cincinnati. It was his third start since coming off the disabled list with shoulder fatigue.

“Charlie threw the ball really well,” manager John Russell told the team’s official website. “It was nice to see him out there with some confidence and throwing the ball like he’s capable of.”

Morton’s only appearance against New York was two scoreless innings of relief in a 7-6 win with Atlanta on Sept. 21, 2008.

The Mets (73-73) have won six of eight and have pounded Pirates pitching in the last two games, collecting 22 hits.

Mike Pelfrey (14-9, 3.89) gets the ball for the Mets, looking to win his third consecutive home start.

After beating Houston at home on Aug. 27, the right-hander recorded a 10.38 ERA in road losses to Atlanta and Washington. He rebounded at Citi Field against Philadelphia on Saturday, allowing two runs in 7 1-3 innings of a 4-3 win over the NL East leaders.

“I’m hopeful that this is the Pelfrey that you’ll see the rest of his career,” manager Jerry Manuel told the team’s official website. “There’s still growth for him, and I feel confident that he can get to that next level.”

Pelfrey is 9-3 with a 2.89 ERA at home this year. He also is 2-1 with a 4.34 ERA in three starts against the Pirates, but has never faced them in New York.

Pelfrey’s only road win since mid-June came against Pittsburgh. He allowed one earned run over eight innings of a 7-2 victory on Aug. 20.

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