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HOU@PIT: Hurdle chats about Morton's start, win

Things didn't go so well for Jon Niese in Toronto.

In his last outing, he surrendered eight runs on eight hits and a pair of walks. Half of the Blue Jays' hits were home runs, and Niese was out of the game after three innings.

It goes without saying that Niese hopes things will go better Wednesday, when he takes the hill against the Pirates to close out a three-game set in Pittsburgh.

Niese's season has been a peculiar one. He won each of his first two starts, but he has gone 0-2 since, with a quartet of no-decisions. He allowed five runs in three innings at Houston on May 1 and gave up the eight at Toronto on Friday, both losses.

Wednesday's start will mark Niese's fifth start in the month of May, with all five coming on the road. In two career starts against Pittsburgh, he is 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA.

The Pirates could be in business against Niese, though. They are 6-0 against left-handed starters at PNC Park this season. Outfielder Andrew McCutchen has been a big part of that. He is batting .474 against left-handed starters in his home park, and he has nine hits in his last 13 at-bats against them.

Niese's opponent, Pirates right-hander Charlie Morton, knows a thing or two about unfortunate outings. He was the other starter last weekend in the game that was nearly a no-hitter for Detroit's Justin Verlander. Verlander ended up blanking the Pirates; Morton allowed four runs. It was his third loss in May, opposed to just one win. After giving up a total of five earned runs in three April starts, Morton has been hit harder in May, with an ERA of 5.64 on the month.

Mets: You've got that Wright
• David Wright leads the Majors with a .403 batting average. Entering play Tuesday, Wright also ranked first in batting average against right-handed pitchers, with a .429 mark, and first in road batting average, hitting at a .469 clip. Wright went 0-for-4 on Tuesday in Pittsburgh.

• Mike Baxter has been a backup extraordinaire for the Mets this season. He's hitting .378, mostly as a pinch-hitter. In 14 games played in May, Baxter is hitting .417, with five doubles and four RBIs.

Pirates: April showers bring May powers
• Entering play Tuesday, only two players in the National League had more home runs in May than McCutchen's seven. Miami's Giancarlo Stanton and St. Louis' Carlos Beltran were tied for first with eight long balls. McCutchen has found his power stroke after hitting no home runs in April. He's hitting .393 in May with 16 RBIs.

• Home is where the hits are for Jose Tabata. He has a career .316 batting average at PNC Park.

Worth noting
• There aren't too many players on the Pirates' roster with a lot of at-bats against Niese. The most experienced is Clint Barmes, who is 2-for-9 in his career against the left-hander with a double, a home run and three RBIs. Comments