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STL@PHI: Hamels strikes out eight over seven innings

The road has not been kind to the Pirates so far in 2013.

The Pirates are 2-5 away from home and began a 10-game road swing with a 3-2 loss to the Phillies on Monday. Things won't get any easier for Pittsburgh on Tuesday against Philadelphia ace Cole Hamels in the second of a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park.

Despite their road woes, the Pirates are 7-3 over their last 10 games thanks to their recent 7-2 homestand. Manager Clint Hurdle said he likes the resiliency his club showed at home following a 2-4 West Coast trip.

"We're just doing things the game is asking us to do," Hurdle said. "We're just answering the tasks that have been thrown out there in a pretty proficient way and just keeping the game one inning at a time, one at bat at a time. They've really compartmentalized well. I like where we are from that standpoint."

Now the Pirates just need to bring that to the road.

The Phillies have won three of their last four games following a four-game losing skid. Philadelphia is 6-5 at home.

Hamels will look to continue his progression after opening the season with two poor starts. The left-hander allowed 13 runs on 16 hits over 10 2/3 innings to begin the year. He looked more like himself in his last outing, striking out eight over seven innings against the Cardinals on Thursday in a no-decision. Hamels remains winless in four starts.

"You have to be better than good," Hamels said after his last outing. "In order to win ballgames, you have to be great all the time."

Fellow lefty Jeff Locke will start for the Pirates. The organization's 2012 Minor League Pitcher of the Year, Locke is 1-1 with a 5.17 ERA. He hasn't recorded an out in the sixth inning in his previous two starts, and he has never faced the Phillies.

Pirates: Melancon, Grilli shutting the door
The Pirates are 9-0 this year when leading after seven innings, due largely to strong relief work by Mark Melancon and closer Jason Grilli.

In 11 appearances, Melancon has allowed just one run on four hits. He has 10 strikeouts against zero walks in 11 innings.

Grilli has seven saves in nine appearances, striking out 13 in eight innings. He's walked four, given up three hits and is yet to allow a run.

• Starling Marte led off Monday's game with a double, the 16th time he's reached base in 18 games at the top of the lineup. Marte is hitting .315, while getting on base at a .367 clip.

• The Pirates have gone 40 innings without committing an error. Pittsburgh's last error came in the fourth inning against the Braves on Thursday.

Phillies: Nix enjoys success off the bench
Laynce Nix has excelled as a pinch-hitter through 20 games this season, going 5-for-10 (.500) with two home runs and five RBIs in that role.

Still, Nix has more value than just pinch-hitting. He's started seven games in right field, mainly against right-handers.

"I've always felt Nix could hit if he stayed healthy and we got him some at-bats, especially against right-handed pitching," said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. "Because when he makes contact, he hits the ball hard. He can help you. He's already helped us."

Nix had a pinch-hit RBI double on Sunday in the seventh inning against the Cardinals that tied the game at 3. Nix hit a game-winning, pinch-hit homer in the ninth inning on April 14 at Miami.

Worth noting
• Pirates shortstop Clint Barmes is 4-for-7 (.571) in his career against Hamels with two doubles, one homer and three RBIs.

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