Pirates officially eliminated from playoffs

| Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012, 10:01 p.m.

NEW YORK — Jeff Locke walked off the mound Wednesday night at Citi Field no closer to his first major league win than he was in his eight previous career starts.

The blame wasn't just on the left-hander after the Pirates' 6-0 loss to the New York Mets officially eliminated them from playoff contention.

Locke (0-3) allowed five runs in 3 23 innings, but the Pirates' defense wasn't sharp, and the offense produced only three singles, all against Mets starter Jeremy Hefner (3-7).

That's the same Hefner who was pulled from his previous start after allowing seven runs on six hits without recording an out against the Phillies on Sept. 20. The right-hander, who struck out five in his previous three starts combined, struck out seven to match a career high. It was his first win since Aug. 4 and just the second time in 12 starts this season he was pitching after six innings.

“He made pitches, his changeup was effective and his fastball was good,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “What we made hard on ourselves was the first eight innings and 24 outs to play with. We had 11 fly balls and eight punchouts. That's 19 soft outs.”

Mets leadoff man Ruben Tejada was 4 for 5 with two RBI, and Daniel Murphy, David Wright and Scott Hairston went 2 for 4.

With seven games left, the Pirates need to go 6-1 to reach 82 wins and record their first winning season in 19 years. Three games under .500, they've won just six of 24 games this month.

The Pirates scored in double-digits Tuesday for the first time since mid-August and were hoping to win back-to-back games for the first time since Sept. 4-5.

That possibility began slipping away when the Mets hit three consecutive one-out singles in the third. The final was an infield single by Wright to Pedro Alvarez, who threw past first for an error and allowed the second run of the inning to score.

The hit was the 1,419th of Wright's career, lifting him past Ed Kranepool for the most in Mets history.

Scott Hairston doubled to score another and, after three more singles and a run in the fourth, Hurdle lifted his starter.

“It seems like the game sped up on me,” Locke said. “You don't execute a few pitches, you walk a guy, guys go station-to-station after that. You have to know when you have opportunities to put guys away.”

Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at kprice@tribweb.com or 412-320-7980.

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