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MIA@CLE: Gomez fans four over 6 1/3 scoreless frames

After sweeping the Royals last weekend, the Pirates were tied for first place in the National League Central. Today, the Pirates are suddenly a handful of games out of first place. What happened?

Look to the road, where the Bucs have struggled this season. The Pirates lost four straight on the road before finally beating the Indians, 9-2, at Progressive Field on Saturday.

At PNC Park, the Pirates are 19-11 and have outscored opponents 86-83. But away from the Steel City, they are 14-20, and they've allowed 156 runs to opponents, nearly double the amount they've allowed at home.

Pittsburgh will send Brad Lincoln to the hill in the series finale against the Indians on Sunday. Lincoln also has experienced a big difference between pitching at home and on the road.

At home -- where he's thrown 9 1/3 innings, all as a reliever -- Lincoln is 1-0 and hasn't allowed an earned run. On the road -- where he's made all three of his starts this season, plus seven relief appearances -- he's 2-2 with a 4.32 ERA in 25 innings.

Sunday will mark Lincoln's fourth start of the year. His first came in mid-May, a win in Miami. In his past two starts, the numbers have not been as good: 0-2 with a 9.72 ERA. He has also allowed three home runs over his last two starts. Sunday's game against the Indians could be the last chance for Lincoln to prove he belongs in the rotation.

"We need him to pitch better and he knows that," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We have to make sure he's not just out there trying to pace himself. He was so good when he was very aggressive. We haven't seen the velocity the last couple times. We need to get him back on track -- and we're going to keep him in the rotation."

Cleveland starter Jeanmar Gomez will try to continue the Pirates' road woes. Gomez is 4-5 with a 4.71 ERA. He has struck out 31 batters and walked 23.

Pirates: McGehee mashing in June
Casey McGehee has been having a terrific month of June. In 12 games this month, he is batting .389 with three doubles, three home runs and eight RBIs. Entering play Saturday, his June on-base percentage was .474 and he was slugging .656 on the month.

• Gerrit Cole, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 Draft, was promoted to Double-A Altoona on Friday. He struck out 69 batters in 67 innings with Single-A Bradenton. He's scheduled to make his Double-A debut on Wednesday.

Indians: Brantley's streak snapped
Outfielder Michael Brantley had hit safely in 22 straight games entering play Saturday, but his 0-for-3 performance against the Pirates put an end to the streak. It was the longest streak in the Major Leagues this season and the longest by an Indians hitter since Casey Blake hit safely in 26-straight games in 2007.

• Chris Perez converted his 21st straight save on Friday, tying Doug Jones for the second-longest save streak in club history, since the save statistic came about in 1969. The franchise record for consecutive saves is 38, set by Jose Mesa in 1995.

Worth noting
• Given the youth of both the Pirates and Indians, there isn't much history between Sunday's starting pitchers and their respective opponents. Gomez has never faced anyone on the Pirates' active roster. Lincoln has seen a trio of Indians, and Carlos Santana is the only one of note. He's picked up three hits, including a double and a home run, off Lincoln in his career.

• The all-time series between these two teams is tied at 16-16.

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