Lincoln might pitch in later innings

Brad Lincoln (left) tags Michael Bourn in Friday's game in Atlanta.
Brad Lincoln (left) tags Michael Bourn in Friday's game in Atlanta.

ST. LOUIS — RHP Brad Lincoln has been throwing the ball well enough that he might move into more of a late-inning role in the bullpen. “Lincoln’s stuff is playing up real big,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “He’s bringing it. I’m not so sure Lincoln’s a guy we want to keep in long relief for a long time. We might be able to use him in leverage situations.”

The arrival of RHP Jared Hughes today gives the Pirates another reliever who can go multiple innings. And with Hurdle trying to stick to a two-day “rotation” in the pen, Lincoln could come in handy late in a game on days when, say, Juan Cruz, Jason Grilli or Chris Resop are not available.

»»» Hughes was recalled from Triple-A Indy to replace RHP Evan Meek, and is in uniform today. Meek was demoted after the game last night in Atlanta. Opponents were batting .275 against Meek and he was scored upon in two of his past three outings. Friday, he tossed a season-high 1 2/3 innings, allowed all three inherited runners to score and also was charged with a run. Sunday, he threw a scoreless inning and notched one strikeout. Hurdle said Meek is “close” to regaining his form, but needed regular work at Indy to get there. “This is the best opportunity to get him that work,” Hurdle said.

This is Hughes’ third stint with the Pirates this year. He was on the Opening Day roster, was optioned to Indy on April 21, recalled four days later as the “26th man” in a doubleheader against the Rockies and was sent back down immediately after the second game that day. Hughes was in Norfolk, Va., and had just finished dinner last night when he was told he would rejoin the Pirates. “I’m pumped up and ready to go,” he said. During his time in Indy, Hughes continued to work on his sinker, trying to throw it down in the zone. “As far low as that zone goes, that’s where I want to throw it,” Hughes said. “Sometimes, even below that.”

»»» Pedro Alvarez has nine extra-base hits in his first 18 games this season. Last year, he finished with 14 XBH in 74 games. Yesterday, Alvarez homered off Mike Minor, his former teammate at Vanderbilt. “Mike’s a great pitcher and competitor,” Alvarez said. “He’s as tough a pitcher as there is out there. We capitalized on some of his mistakes.”

»»» James McDonald enjoyed a big cushion of run support last night. “You feel a little more relaxed, but you’ve still got to be on your toes,” McDonald said. “You’ve got to execute your pitches because the tables can turn quick. I try to imagine it’s 0-0 every inning I’m out there.”

»»» The Pirates play nine of their next 12 games against NL Central foes.

Game 23: Pirates @ Cardinals, 8:15 p.m. ET

Pirates (10-12): 1. Alex Presley lf, 2. Jose Tabata rf, 3. Andrew McCutchen cf, 4. Garrett Jones rf, 5. Neil Walker 2b, 6. Pedro Alvarez 3b, 7. Clint Barmes ss, 8. Rod Barajas c, 9. Charlie Morton rhp (1-1, 2.65)

Cardinals (14-8): 1. Rafael Furcal ss, Jon Jay cf, 3. Matt Holliday lf, 4. Carlos Beltran rf, 5. David Freese 3b, 6. Yadier Molina c, 7. Allen Craig 1b, 8. Skip Schumaker 2b, 9. Adam Wainwright rhp (0-3, 7.32)