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Rookies face off on mound for Pirates-Mets matchup

NEW YORK -- The Pittsburgh Pirates hope they snapped out of an inconsistent offensive stretch Friday night. The New York Mets are worried their starting pitching is becoming consistent again for all the wrong reasons.

The Pirates will attempt to maintain their hot-hitting ways Saturday night when the host Mets send an unlikely stopper candidate to the mound in the middle game of a three-game series at Citi Field. Rookie catcher Elias Diaz collected six RBI to lead Pittsburgh to a 12-7 win in Friday's opener.

"Unbelievable job by the team, scoring, obviously, a ton of runs," said Pirates starter Gerrit Cole, who picked up the win despite allowing seven runs in five innings. "Lot of credit to them. That was a huge pickup."

Two rookie right-handers will square off Saturday when the Pirates' Tyler Glasnow (2-4, 6.95 ERA) opposes the Mets' Robert Gsellman (3-3, 5.75 ERA).

The task for Gsellman will be to slow down a Pittsburgh lineup that has scored 18 runs in the last two games. Entering Friday, the Pirates had alternated high-scoring games (three games with four runs or more) with low-scoring ones (three games with two or fewer runs) in the previous six games.

"We're out there grinding every at-bat," said Pirates first baseman Josh Bell, whose leadoff homer in the sixth inning jump-started a seven-run outburst. "To open up a series (like that), it's clutch."

Gsellman needs to come up clutch for a Mets team that is once again starved for solid starting pitching. Matt Harvey became the latest veteran to struggle Friday when he was staked to two leads but gave up six runs in five-plus innings.

"We've had a rough patch, pitching-wise," Harvey said after the game. "We've just got to do a better job."

New York's other top experienced starter, Jacob deGrom, was tagged for seven runs in four innings in a 7-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday.

"Right now, it seems like when we start a game, we're not sure what we're going to get," Mets manager Terry Collins said after Friday's loss. "And that's not a real good feeling."

Gsellman has at least provided two straight decent efforts for the Mets. He picked up the win Monday by allowing two runs (one earned) in seven innings of a 4-2 victory over the Brewers and has given up five runs (four earned) in his last two starts, a stretch in which Gsellman has lowered his overall ERA by exactly a run.

Gsellman has never faced the Pirates.

Glasnow will be starting against the Mets for the second straight start. He opposed New York for the first time last Sunday and took the loss after giving up five runs in five innings as the Pirates fell 7-2 at PNC Park.

Glasnow may not know the identity of his catcher until Saturday afternoon. The Pirates won Friday without starting catcher Francisco Cervelli, who got sick about half an hour before first pitch to open the door for Diaz to have the best night of his brief career. Cervelli is day to day.

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