© 2010 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

09/13/10 9:24 PM ET

Dickey hopes to come up aces against Duke

There is a new sheriff in town, and his name his R.A. Dickey.

With Mets ace Johan Santana undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery on Tuesday, Dickey will look to solidify himself as the club's de facto ace with a win over the Pirates.

Unfortunately for Dickey and Mets fans alike, the right-hander has been about as unpredictable as his signature knuckleball.

Over his past four starts, Dickey has flip-flopped between lights out and out to lunch. In his two blow-up outings, Dickey allowed 12 runs over 13 innings, surrendering 18 hits. Contrasting that with his other two starts, in which he gave up just three runs over 13 innings, the 35-year-old journeyman is a tough read.

That being said, his overall 2.91 ERA and 10-6 record should strike fear into the Pirates' offense -- a lineup that has averaged just 2.67 runs over its past nine games.

Despite the team's offensive struggles, manager John Russell has praised the Pirates' never-give-up attitude, even though they are far removed from any sort of playoff aspirations.

"One of the things that we've really been pushing with this young group since they got here is competitiveness pitch-to-pitch," Russell said. "Staying focused for nine innings. They're showing that they have the ability to do that by coming back on some teams that are pretty good."

Looking to garner a little run support from the Bucs' feisty young batting order will be left-hander Zach Duke. Duke lasted a career-short one-plus innings in his last start against the Braves, facing only 11 hitters. He never established command of his fastball and fooled no one in Atlanta's lineup. Opponents are hitting .320 off Duke this season.

Pirates: September tryout
Monday marked the second straight night that September callup John Bowker was in the Pirates' starting lineup. It sounds like the Pirates are going to continue giving the 27-year-old periodic starts so that they can get more of a look at him before he comes into Spring Training. Bowker started in right field on Monday, going 0-for-3 at the dish. ... Rookie second baseman Neil Walker snapped his career-high 18-game hitting streak. Had Walker collected a hit, he would have had the second-longest hitting streak by a Pirates rookie since Jimmy Williams hit safely in 27 straight games in 1899.

Mets: Impressive sequel
In just the second start of his Major League career, 24-year-old Dillon Gee turned in another outstanding performance in Monday's 1-0 win over the Pirates. In his first outing on Sept. 7 against the Nats, Gee went seven innings, allowing one run on two hits. On Monday, Gee blanked the Pirates through six innings, permitting five hits and four walks. He received a no-decision for the effort.

Worth noting
The Pirates remain winless at Citi Field. They enter Tuesday 0-4. ... Youngsters Nick Evans and Ruben Tejada are expected to be in the Mets' lineup Tuesday and Wednesday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.