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Lincoln fans four in first start of the year

A first-round Draft pick of the Pirates in 2006, Brad Lincoln is finally getting his chance to make a statement that he belongs in Pittsburgh's starting rotation.

And not just for the last month of the 2011 season, but for 2012 as well.

With a spot opening up in the rotation when Kevin Correia was placed on the disabled list, Lincoln will make his third start of the season Saturday against the Cardinals in St. Louis.

"Everything happens for a reason. I think this opportunity has presented itself. He's well aware of it," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "I think he'd rather start and see where he could take that. He's got an edge to him. We'll see how it continues to play out, but he pitches with an edge. He wants to be a guy you can depend on to give the ball to every day. The two times he's started up here this year he's been very, very effective."

While he's pitched in the Minors and out of the Pirates' bullpen for the majority of the season, Lincoln has combined to give up only four runs on seven hits in 12 innings of work during his two starts for Pittsburgh this year.

"I would definitely think it's going to be a great opportunity to give us a good showing. We're going to be playing teams in our division," Hurdle said. "It's going to be good, healthy competition. The timing is right for him to get the opportunity."

Lincoln will go for his first win of the season against a Cardinals team that needs Rafael Furcal to get going. On a hot streak at the time he was traded from the Dodgers, Furcal hasn't been as productive since arriving.

Hitting .231 with a .283 on-base percentage with the Cardinals, an effective Furcal could be just what the team needs to jump-start an offense that has underachieved lately.

"For me, it's no problem," Furcal said of batting eighth, which is where he was slotted Friday night. "As soon as I'm in the lineup, I try to do something. If I can't do that, then play good defense.

"I've just been trying to do some extra work and see where my rhythm and my bat are, and try to keep it going, keep working."

Pirates: Stargell honored
Pirates great Willie Stargell will be featured on a stamp next summer, the United States Postal Service has announced.

The U.S. Postal Service has selected four players to be recognized as part of an All-Star set of stamps. Hall of Famers Joe DiMaggio and Larry Doby have also been chosen for the recognition. The fourth player will be named at a later date.

The collection, which is designed to honor perennial All-Stars, is scheduled to come out in July 2012.

Cardinals: Carpenter takes hill
• Dealing over his last eight starts, Chris Carpenter will take the mound Saturday having struck out 53 and walked only 14 in those games. With a record of 4-1 in that stretch, he's given up only two home runs in 57 2/3 innings to improve to 8-8 with a 3.57 ERA.

• At the request of pitching coach Dave Duncan, the Cardinals disclosed further details about the medical condition of Duncan's wife, Jeanine, on Friday. Mrs. Duncan underwent the removal of a brain tumor on Sunday.

It is uncertain when or whether Duncan will resume his duties with the club, but manager Tony La Russa strongly emphasized that there is no rush.

"I don't even think about it," La Russa said. "I just think he's going to be there and do whatever he can to help her. If his help's not necessary on a three- or four-hour basis, then he'll be here doing his job. But I've talked to him about the rotation, and he can watch on TV and talk about what he sees. It's not like having him here, but we know what the priorities are."

Worth noting
• Matt Adams, Ryan Jackson and Shelby Miller of the Springfield Cardinals were all named to the Texas League's postseason All-Star team on Friday. Adams is the league's Player of the Year.

• The Pirates are 5-6 vs. St. Louis this year and 2-3 at Busch Stadium.

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