Pirates-Mets Preview

The New York Mets are facing another season sweep at the hands of potential postseason opponent from the NL Central.

Giving the ball to Matt Harvey didn't help in his last meeting with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Harvey will try to continue his outstanding stretch by avenging the worst performance of his career against the Pirates on Sunday.

The Mets (63-54) are atop the NL East, but they've lost 16 of 19 matchups with Pittsburgh, St. Louis and the Chicago Cubs, the three teams in playoff positions from the Central. They lost all seven meetings with Chicago and are on the brink of going 0-6 versus the Pirates (68-46) after falling 5-3 in 14 innings Saturday.

It is New York's longest skid to Pittsburgh since losing seven straight in 1992 when both teams were in the NL East.

Harvey (11-7, 2.61 ERA) was hit hard in a 8-2 loss at Pittsburgh on May 23, surrendering a career-high seven runs in four innings - the only time he failed to reach the fifth in 58 starts.

The Dark Knight may feel more comfortable in Gotham, where he's 4-0 with a 1.05 ERA over his last six starts. He's 3-0 with a 0.91 ERA in his past four overall, winning the last two by tossing 15 scoreless innings after going eight in Tuesday's 4-0 win over Colorado.

"He's starting to get all the things we know he has - all the weapons, all the things that made him special," manager Terry Collins said of Harvey, who missed all of last year following Tommy John surgery.

Harvey has gone a personal-best 16 innings without allowing a run twice, most recently in May before Andrew McCutchen ended it with a two-run blast in the first.

The Mets have scored nine runs while batting .204 against the Pirates this season, but Yoenis Cespedes has been a bright spot with a solo homer and a double among his five hits in this series.

He's 8 for 20 with two homers, two doubles and three RBIs in his last four games.

The Pirates, who occupy the league's first wild-card spot, would like Jeff Locke (6-7, 4.43) to last a bit longer after reaching the sixth in just one of his last four starts, going 1-1 with a 6.53 ERA. He's also walked 10 in 20 2-3 innings over that stretch and his 3.48 walks per nine innings is the third-highest in the majors.

Locke gave up four runs and seven hits with three walks Tuesday but much of the damage came in the fifth inning. He walked the first two batters before surrendering three runs and exiting after the inning in a 4-3 loss at St. Louis.

"I made it easy for them. I didn't throw enough strikes," Locke told MLB's official website. "I didn't set myself up to be in a good position to put anybody away with offspeed pitches."

Locke hasn't faced the Mets since May 9, 2013, allowing one run and three hits in six innings while not getting a decision in a loss at Citi Field.

Gregory Polanco has a .450 average with three homers during a nine-game hitting streak. The right fielder has five hits in this series, including his seventh homer Saturday to match his total as a rookie from last year.

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