Pittsburgh Pirates at Seattle Mariners
- The Pirates have won five of their last six games and will be looking to win five consecutive contests for the first time since July 17-22, 2012. These teams have split their two meetings so far this season.
- The Mariners have won each of their last two games after winning just once in their previous six contests. Seattle will be looking to win three in a row for the first time since May 1-4.
- Joe Saunders is 2-2 with a 1.95 ERA in his last four starts and four of his five wins this season have come at home. Saunders is 2-0 with a 3.15 ERA in three career starts against Pittsburgh.
- Jeff Locke is 6-0 with a 1.73 ERA in his last 14 starts and hasn't lost since his season debut on April 7. Locke will be facing Seattle for the first time in his career.
- Pedro Alvarez has homered in each of his last four games and will be looking to become the first Pirate to homer in five consecutive games since Jose Castillo did so from May 26-31, 2006.
- Raul Ibanez has hit a total of three homers and has three RBI in each of his last two games. Ibanez is hitting .250 (3-for-12) with two doubles in four interleague games this season.
- MLB intends to ban home plate collisions
- RHP Colon, Mets agree to 2 years, $20M
- Mariners add sluggers Hart, Morrison
- Agent: Dodgers OF Kemp won't be traded
- Giants and OF Morse agree to 1 year
By NOEY KUPCHAN
(AP) -- With Pedro Alvarez locked in, the Pittsburgh Pirates continue to roll. Giving the ball to Jeff Locke could help them keep things going.
Locke tries to lead the visiting Pirates to a season-high fifth consecutive win Tuesday night in the opener of a two-game set against the Seattle Mariners.
Alvarez homered for the fourth straight game before Pittsburgh (46-30) scored a combined seven runs in the ninth and 10th innings during Sunday's 10-9 road win over the Los Angeles Angels.
"I got to hang out in the air conditioning in here for about six innings, so I felt fresh when I got out there," said Russell Martin, who went 2 for 2 with two RBIs after coming on as a pinch-hitter in the ninth. "But our guys battled back and had great ABs collectively, top to bottom, and it was fun to be a part of. We have no quit, that's for sure."
The Pirates, averaging 6.5 runs during the win streak, went 6 for 16 with runners in scoring position Sunday. Pittsburgh has won four straight three times but hasn't posted five consecutive victories since July 17-22.
"When those guys get guys on base, they take advantage," Angels reliever Kevin Jepsen said. "That's why they're playing as well as they are."
Much of the Pirates' recent success can be attributed to Alvarez. The slugging third baseman has raised his average 25 points to .237 while going 13 for 33 with five homers and 13 RBIs during an eight-game hitting streak.
Alvarez, whose nine home runs since June 2 rank second in the majors, will try to become the first Pirate to homer in five straight games since Jose Castillo from May 26-31, 2006.
Locke (6-1, 2.01 ERA), meanwhile, has shined on the mound. The NL leader in ERA is 6-0 with a 1.73 ERA over 14 starts since taking the loss in his season debut April 7, giving up one or zero runs in six of his last seven outings.
Locke yielded four hits over seven scoreless innings Wednesday in a 2-1, 13-inning loss at Cincinnati. The left-hander has received an average of 2.59 runs of support in his last nine starts.
"I know that I've got guys here I got to do my best to take care of, because they're taking care of me," he told MLB's official website.
Locke will try to quiet a Mariners team coming off a thrilling victory of its own, 6-3 over Oakland on Sunday. Raul Ibanez hit a pair of homers before Kendrys Morales delivered a pinch-hit game-winning three-run shot in the 10th inning.
Ibanez is hitting .288 with six homers and 12 RBIs in his last 13 games.
"I'm just trying to hit the ball on the barrel and things are working out," he said.
The Mariners (34-43) now turn to Joe Saunders (5-7, 4.48), who dropped to 2-2 with a 1.82 ERA over a five-start stretch after going the distance in Wednesday's 1-0 loss at Los Angeles.
"Joe was good," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "His fastball had a little more life than a couple years ago, so he's feeling pretty good right now and he pitched a strong game for those guys."
Saunders also thrived in two starts against the Pirates while with Arizona last year, winning both while compiling a 1.93 ERA. He'll need to be careful against Gaby Sanchez, who is 6 for 12 with a homer in their matchups.
Updated June 24, 2013