Marlins right-hander Tom Koehler takes the mound Wednesday looking for a similar performance to his last outing, but with a different result.
Koehler impressed last Thursday against the Reds, not allowing an earned run in seven innings. Still, he ended up taking a hard-luck loss in Miami's most controversial game of the season. Koehler started the 3-1 loss to the Cincinnati -- a game that featured an overturned double play at home plate, which would have ended the eighth inning.
Koehler was charged with two unearned runs in the game he was in line to collect the win.
"Unfortunately, that kind of forced me to forget the start," Koehler said. "I was left with a bitter taste in my mouth after that game."
To rebound and continue to work deep into games, Koehler says he will have to execute quality pitches.
"Just like with any game, the key to going deep into games is keeping your pitch count down and allowing your defense to work," Koehler said. "And executing quality stuff."
The Marlins are looking to gain traction and make a playoff push. For a young team, playing meaningful games late into the season should help now and in the future.
"What you tend to see in these situations is guys tend to care a lot less about their individual numbers, and they start playing for a team win," Koehler said. "Whether a reliever gets the win or the starter gets the win, at this point it doesn't matter any more. We know we need to win these games. It brings an extra focus because we know we're playing for something, as opposed to playing to kind of showcase yourself for another year or another team, whatever it may be."
Pirates left-hander Jeff Locke will oppose Koehler, trying to come out of the roughest stretch of his season.
Locke's allowed 12 runs (10 earned) in his last 12 innings, and his ERA has risen from 3.05 on July 20 to 3.77.
He's been victimized by the long ball recently, surrendering seven home runs in his last three starts. This comes after allowing just three homers in his previous eight starts.
The Rockies bashed three homers off the southpaw in a July 26 loss, then the D-backs took Locke yard twice last Thursday, as he dropped his second straight decision.
"Most games in Colorado ... I kick 'em to the curb," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said after the game in Arizona, alluding to the altitude that skewers pitching efforts. "Today, some pitches got elevated."
Marlins: Trying to kickstart the offense
Scoring runs against playoff contenders is a challenge. The Marlins saw that in dropping three of four at home to the Reds before they headed to Pittsburgh.
The Reds and Pirates have been running out some quality arms.
Grinding out at-bats is the approach the Marlins used to stay competitive in the National League East. It will be needed down the stretch.
"I think we went up against some pretty good pitching," manager Mike Redmond said. "That happens. Like anything, we went through some struggles. Guys have been up and down. We've been able to come through it. The key is just getting guys on base. It always is."
Pirates: McCutchen in wait-and-see mode with injury
Pittsburgh got its first taste of life without Andrew McCutchen after the reigning National League MVP was diagnosed with a fractured rib before the team's 6-3 loss to the Marlins on Tuesday.
The Pirates have not placed McCutchen on the disabled list yet.
"[The plan is to] keep evaluating me and see how I feel right now," said McCutchen, who has never spent time on the DL in his five-year Major League career. "We don't want to make a decision yet; we don't want to put me on the DL right away, because there's a chance I could be better before 15 days are up. There's a chance."
Pittsburgh accounted for the loss of their starting center fielder by sliding over Starling Marte to McCutchen's position, and moving Josh Harrison to left field.
• The Marlins are leaning toward getting newcomer Enrique Hernandez in the lineup on Wednesday against Locke. If Hernandez does start, it likely will be at second base. Hernandez was acquired from the Astros last Thursday.
• Marcell Ozuna broke an 0-for-13 slide with an RBI double in the fourth inning on Tuesday.
• Four Pirates relievers were needed in the Marlins' five-run eighth inning on Tuesday night. None recorded more than one out in the frame, and all five runs were charged to the bullpen. Pittsburgh also used four relievers in its 3-2 loss to Arizona on Sunday.
Jackson Alexander is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.