PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates have been looking for something to jump-start their running game, and when they look at R.A. Dickey, they probably see him holding a starter's gun along with a baseball.Tuesday's starter for the Mets features the knuckleball, which would appear to be the ideal pitch on which to run. The Bucs did take some liberties while winning both of Dickey's starts against them last season, but manager Clint Hurdle doesn't consider him an easy target. "You'd like to think you can, but he's very quick to the plate," Hurdle said. "We did try to put it in play the last time. So we'll see." Besides quick feet, Dickey also has a legitimate fastball to foul up runners. Entering Tuesday's game at PNC Park, he hadn't allowed a single stolen base in his first eight starts this season, and runners were a mere 44-for-68 against him lifetime. Dickey clearly can't be stereotyped on the level of Tim Wakefield, against whom basestealers had a 76 percent success rate (448-for-585). "You always ran on Tim, because his knuckleball was violent. You never knew where it was going," Hurdle said.
Barmes' glove work earning Pirates' praise
PITTSBURGH -- The play by shortstop Clint Barmes in the ninth inning of Monday night's 5-4 win over the Mets was many things. Clutch, exceptional, deceptively difficult. Everything but routine.The pitcher on the mound at the time Barmes ranged deep into the hole to glove David Wright's one-out grounder -- perhaps 25 feet off the third-base foul line -- then made a strong, accurate sidearm throw with a flick of the wrist had his own description. "That was kind of Troy Tulowitzki-esque," said Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan, invoking Colorado's Gold Glove Award-winning shortstop and Barmes' successor with the Rockies. "I've seen [Tulowitzki] make that play a lot. A great play by Barmes, and big. "It's a lot easier pitching with two men out and none on than having one on and one out." After Barmes kept the bases empty, Hanrahan nailed down his 10th save with a strikeout of Ike Davis. "[Barmes] makes plays look easy that have a degree of difficulty you don't realize until you look at them again on tape," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's just a little unorthodox, a one-handed fielder. But he's been doing it like that since he's been 6." The taken-for-granted defensive play signed off a satisfactory night for Barmes, who singled ahead of Michael McKenry's tying homer in the seventh and drove in the winning run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth. The shortstop, who has been the frequent target of fans' boos as he's struggled to get his batting average off the Interstate, even had a good evening in that regard. Ronny Cedeno, the previous Pirates shortstop back in town with the Mets, got most of the boos.
Power drought not worrying Bucs' McGehee
PITTSBURGH -- Casey McGehee certainly doesn't merit the kind of home run watch to which Albert Pujols was subjected earlier this season, but the Pittsburgh corner infielder's power drought has nonetheless reached personal heights.McGehee is the lone Pirates regular who remains without a home run, 95 at-bats into his season entering Tuesday's game against the Mets. In fact, McGehee has gone 112 at-bats since he last homered on Sept. 19, against the Cubs at Wrigley Field while with the Brewers. Although he doesn't consider himself a homer hitter, McGehee did clock one every 24.7 at-bats in 2009-10 with Milwaukee. "I think I'm more of a doubles hitter, line-drive hitter," said McGehee, left out of the lineup Tuesday against Mets right-hander R.A. Dickey. "I just want to reach the point where I'm squaring-up the ball hard. I've felt better the last three, four days. It feels like it's coming." McGehee has been lacking far more than just the home run. He is batting .189, with only five RBIs in 36 games. His experience has shown in his ability to draw 12 walks; only Andrew McCutchen's 13 are more among the Bucs. "Casey is in with a handful of guys maybe caught up in chasing numbers, trying to do too much," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He needs to just settle down, see it good, put a good swing on it. Keep it simple: Hit the fastball up the middle."
Jeff Karstens (shoulder inflammation) is scheduled for a bullpen session on Wednesday, then another rehab start of four innings or 60 pitches on Saturday. It hasn't yet been determined whether Karstens will do that with Double-A Altoona or Triple-A Indianapolis. Until Monday night's 5-4 victory in the series opener, the Bucs had lost 160 consecutive games when trailing by four-plus runs, a stretch that went back to June 1, 2009, and was the second longest in MLB history. The only longer such skein was by the Washington Senators, who lost 178 straight from 1906-10. After going 1-for-4 on Tuesday, Rod Barajas has an eight-game hitting streak, and is also hitting .371 (13-for-35) over his last 10 games.
The Last Word: "If it's high, let it fly. If it's low, let it go." -- Manager Clint Hurdle's poetic synopsis of how to handle knuckleballs, like those of the Mets' R.A. Dickey.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.