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Pirates officially eliminated from playoffs

AP - The Mets' David Wright hits his 1,419th career hit in the third inning of the game against the Pirates at Citi Field in New York , Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012. With the hit, Wright became the Mets all-time hits leader. (AP)
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>The Mets' David Wright hits his 1,419th career hit in the third inning of the game against the Pirates at Citi Field in New York , Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012. With the hit, Wright became the Mets all-time hits leader. (AP)
AP - Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada scores in front of Pirates catcher Michael McKenry on Daniel Murphy's third-inning single in their game at Citi Field in New York, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012. (AP)
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada scores in front of Pirates catcher Michael McKenry on Daniel Murphy's third-inning single in their game at Citi Field in New York, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012. (AP)
AP - A throw gets past Pirates shortstop Clint Barmes as the Mets' Ruben Tejada slides safely into second for a stolen base during the third inning at Citi Field in New York, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012. (AP)
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>A throw gets past Pirates shortstop Clint Barmes as the Mets' Ruben Tejada slides safely into second for a stolen base during the third inning at Citi Field in New York, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012. (AP)
AP - The Mets' Daniel Murphy is out as he barrels into Pirates catcher Michael McKenry while trying to score on Scott Hairston's fourth-inning single at Citi Field in New York, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012. (AP)
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>The Mets' Daniel Murphy is out as he barrels into Pirates catcher Michael McKenry while trying to score on Scott Hairston's fourth-inning single at Citi Field in New York, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012. (AP)
Getty Images - Ruben Tejada of the New York Mets is tagged out between first and second base by Garrett Jones of the Pirates at Citi Field on Sept. 26, 2012 in New York. (Getty Images)
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Ruben Tejada of the New York Mets is tagged out between first and second base by Garrett Jones of the Pirates at Citi Field on Sept. 26, 2012 in New York. (Getty Images)
AP - Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, second from left, talks to starting pitcher Jeff Locke before removing him from the game in the fourth inning baseball game against the New York Mets at Citi Field in New York , Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012. Locke allowed five runs on nine hits in three and two-thirds innings. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, second from left, talks to starting pitcher Jeff Locke before removing him from the game in the fourth inning baseball game against the New York Mets at Citi Field in New York , Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012. Locke allowed five runs on nine hits in three and two-thirds innings. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

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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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