The New York Mets rested their young ace ahead of the All-Star game.
With Locke sidelined due to a back injury, the Pirates will turn to rookie Gerrit Cole as they try to enter the All-Star break with their longest winning streak over the New York Mets in 21 years Sunday.
The Mets (40-50) opted to skip Matt Harvey 's turn in the rotation, making him available to pitch - and potentially start - Tuesday's All-Star game at Citi Field.
The Pirates (56-36) aren't afforded the same luxury. Locke will miss his scheduled start Sunday and is out of the Midsummer Classic thanks to discomfort in his back suffered during Monday's 2-1 loss to Oakland.
"The only thing I'm disappointed about is not being able to go (Sunday)," Locke said. "It's not one of those things where I can't go (Sunday) but I can go in the All-Star game. I think it'd be disrespectful to the team. I don't think it's even questionable ... I'll just go there and enjoy it and come back after the break."
Now, Cole (4-2, 3.68 ERA) will fill in for Locke and try to help Pittsburgh to its first six-game win streak against the Mets since a seven-game run in 1992.
The Pirates are tied with St. Louis atop the NL Central, and already assured of their best record at the break since 1975 after rallying for a 4-2 win over New York on Saturday.
"We just want to continue to keep rolling," center fielder Andrew McCutchen said.
Cole, though, is 0-2 with a 3.65 ERA in two starts this month. The only runs the 22-year-old right-hander gave up Tuesday over a season-best seven innings came on a two-run homer by Oakland's Brandon Moss in a 2-1 loss.
McCutchen, one of four Pirates named to the All-Star team, is batting .392 over the past 14 games after hitting a solo homer before connecting for a go-ahead single in the seventh Saturday.
The star center fielder has a .362 average in 14 career home games against New York.
After skipping Harvey's scheduled start Saturday, the Mets are expected to turn to Dillon Gee (6-7, 4.60), who is 2-0 with a 1.73 ERA in four career starts versus the Pirates.
The right-hander limited them to one run over five innings at Citi Field on May 9, but hit two batters and threw 101 pitches before departing in the Mets' 3-2 walkoff win.
Gee earned an 8-1 victory in his only visit to Pittsburgh on June 10, 2011, yielding one run and eight hits in eight innings.
He wasn't nearly that sharp Tuesday at San Francisco, surrendering five runs and a season-high five walks in 6 2-3 innings while not getting a decision in a 10-6 win.
Mets' All-Star David Wright went 0 for 5 with two strikeouts Saturday to end his 12-game hitting streak.
|New York Mets|
|July 13, 2013||LaTroy Hawkins||Day-to-Day||Sore right triceps|
|July 09, 2013||Shaun Marcum||15-Day DL||Thoracic outlet syndrome|
|July 08, 2013||Shaun Marcum||Day-to-Day||Right hand numbness|
|June 22, 2013||Lucas Duda||15-Day DL||Strained left intercostal|
|June 21, 2013||Jonathon Niese||15-Day DL||Partially torn left rotator cuff|
|June 20, 2013||Jonathon Niese||Day-to-Day||Left game - left shoulder discomfort|
|July 07, 2013||Neil Walker||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|June 09, 2013||A.J. Burnett||15-Day DL||Strained right calf|
|June 09, 2013||A.J. Burnett||15-Day DL||Strained right calf|
|June 06, 2013||Jared Hughes||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|June 06, 2013||Wandy Rodriguez||15-Day DL||Left forearm tightness|
|June 03, 2013||Phil Irwin||60-Day DL||Right arm fatigue|
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Dillon Gee pitched another gem against the Pirates, and John Buck hit a two-run single to lead the New York Mets to a 4-2 victory Sunday and avoid a sweep by Pittsburgh before the All-Star break.
Gee (7-7) allowed just one unearned run in 6 2/3 innings to the Pirates (56-37), who entered the day tied with St. Louis for the best record in the major leagues and the National League Central lead.
Gee is 3-0 with a 1.38 ERA in five career starts against Pittsburgh. He scattered, five hits, struck out two and walked one.
Buck's hit capped a three-run first inning against fill-in starter Gerrit Cole (4-3), who lost his third straight start after becoming the first Pirates pitcher since Nick Maddox in 1907 to win the first four of his career.
Buck, Eric Young Jr. and Marlon Byrd each had three hits for New York, which finished a 6-3 road trip. The Mets will host the All-Star Game on Tuesday night at Citi Field.
Bobby Parnell earned his 17th save in 20 opportunities with a scoreless ninth despite giving up back-to-back singles to Clint Barmes and pinch-hitter Russell Martin with one out. He got Jordy Mercer to fly out to end the game.
Starling Marte had two hits for the Pirates, whose three-game winning streak was snapped.
Cole surrendered three runs and six hits in five innings with two walks and five strikeouts. He started in place of All-Star left-hander Jeff Locke , who was scratched from this start on Saturday because of lower back tightness.
The Mets took a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Byrd bounced a run-scoring, ground-rule double into the left-field seats, and Buck lined a two-run single to right.
Marte also bounced an RBI double into the seats in the third inning to draw the Pirates within 3-1.
Daniel Murphy tripled in a run in the seventh to restore the Mets' three-run lead.
Pittsburgh put runners on second and third with none out in the eighth on a single by Mercer and a double by Andrew McCutchen , but the Pirates scored only one run when Jose Tabata grounded out against LaTroy Hawkins .
NOTES: Mets manager Terry Collins said the blister on RHP Matt Harvey 's right index finger has healed and he will be able to pitch in the All-Star game. Harvey is a prime contender to be the NL's starting pitcher on Tuesday despite being scratched from his scheduled start Saturday against the Pirates because of the blister and to limit his innings this season. . Mets 1B Ike Davis got the day off after going 0-for-8 in the first two games of the series. Josh Satin started in his place. . Pittsburgh RHP Mark Melancon was added as injury replacement to the NL All-Star roster. That gives the Pirates a five-man All-Star contingent, their largest since 1972. Melancon joins Locke, RHP Jason Grilli , 3B Pedro Alvarez and McCutchen. . Locke said he expects to make his next start July 21 at Cincinnati.