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PIT@COL: Locke fans six over 6 2/3 innings

The Pirates have weathered the storm so far while Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker have been injured, going 3-3 since McCutchen fractured his rib last Sunday.

However, the Bucs are going to be put to the test over the next three weeks. The Pirates' next 22 games come against teams with records north of the .500 mark, a stretch that starts Monday when the Tigers visit PNC Park for an Interleague tilt.

While the team waits and hopes McCutchen's rib and Walker's back will get better soon, the Pirates are looking to remain in the thick of playoff races in the National League Central and NL Wild Card.

"This playoff run is going to be about survival of the fittest," Pittsburgh general manager Neal Huntington said Sunday. "Every team has faced injury adversity, and we're in the middle of it right now. It's going to be the team that battles through it the best who ends up standing at the end."

The Pirates will start this tough stretch of schedule with left-hander Jeff Locke on the mound, who was stronger as he went along in his last start.

Against the Marlins on Wednesday, Locke gave up three runs to the first 10 batters he faced. But no batter reached second base against Locke afterward as he sat down 16 of the last 17 he faced, including the final 13.

"I guess when damage is done, it's better that it's done quick," Locke said. "I just tried to get in a groove and stay in a groove for as long as I can."

With the teams playing two games in Pittsburgh and a pair in Detroit over the next four days, the Pirates will dodge one Cy Young Award winner in David Price, but they do get Justin Verlander on Monday.

Verlander has dominated the NL throughout his career. He has a 25-2 interleague record, a 14-game winning streak, which dates back to 2010, including four wins against the NL this season.

Verlander has silenced the Pirates, in particular. Including a 13-strikeout performance last season, the righty is 4-0 with a 1.97 ERA and 0.81 WHIP against the Bucs in his career.

Tigers: Trip marks last time without DH
The Tigers face their final two games this regular season without a designated hitter in their short stay in Pittsburgh this week.

Though manager Brad Ausmus has used Victor Martinez to catch in some games in NL parks, he said Sunday he doesn't plan on doing that this time.

"Because of the side injury he had before the break, we were going to have him catch some bullpens in Arizona [two weeks ago] but I didn't want to risk it," Ausmus said. "So at this point, we won't catch Victor, but there's a good possibility that [Miguel Cabrera] will play third."

Cabrera at third base, his everyday position in 2012 and '13, would free up first base for Martinez, where he's appeared 18 times this season.

Pirates: Cole gives up just one hit in third rehab start
Gerrit Cole carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning and surrendered just one hit in six scoreless innings for Triple-A Indianapolis on Sunday.

It was a much better showing for the right-hander than a Tuesday start in which he gave up five runs on 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings. The Pirates called Cole's last start a "gear down" game and noted he had a checklist he worked through. It was different for Cole on Sunday.

"The process for Gerrit today is a little bit more competitive today as far as attacking hitters, versus being refined, being in control, working on pitch sequences," Huntington said Sunday before Cole's sharp outing.

Cole is working back from a strained right lat, which has sidelined him since July 4. This is his second stint on the disabled list this season, as he missed nearly all of June with right shoulder fatigue.

Worth noting
• Verlander has never tallied five Interleague wins in a single season. He can accomplish the feat Monday with a win against the Pirates.

• The Pirates scored five runs in their three-game series against the Padres -- all of which came in the first inning. The Bucs haven't scored a run in an inning other than the first since scoring two runs in the eighth on Thursday against the Marlins.

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