CINCINNATI -- Brad Lincoln continued a string of strong performances with seven shutout innings in Triple-A Indianapolis' 6-1 win on Wednesday afternoon.
The outing was Lincoln's best this season, as the right-hander scattered four hits, walked just one and struck out seven. Lincoln has won his last four starts and allowed just five runs in the process. In those 25 innings, the right-hander has recorded 23 strikeouts.
Lincoln remains a candidate for the Pirates' rotation if Pittsburgh ever decides to move Jeff Karstens back into the bullpen.
Other notes from the Pirates' Minor League system:
A day before Lincoln's outing, Indianapolis starter Justin Wilson had himself a nice performance as well. Wilson picked up his fourth victory of the season while allowing one run and two hits in 5 2/3 innings on Tuesday. Walks, though, continue to be an issue for Wilson, who has issued 23 free passes in 47 2/3 innings this year.
Jameson Taillon, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, suffered his first professional loss on Wednesday. Taillon lasted four innings in his start for low-A West Virginia and allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out four.
Middle infielder Chase d'Arnaud has been on a tear with Indianapolis over the past eight days. He has tallied 16 hits and driven in seven in 30 at-bats during that span. d'Arnaud is batting .285 on the season.
Meek could be back in the bullpen by Tuesday
CINCINNATI -- Only two more Minor League rehab appearances stand between Evan Meek and Pittsburgh, and, if all goes as planned, that return to the Pirates' bullpen will come on Tuesday.
Meek, who is on the disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis, has already made two scoreless appearances with Triple-A Indianapolis this week. His next outing will come on Friday, which will be followed by an appearance on Saturday, as well.
Assuming Meek has no issues pitching on back-to-back days, he'll return to Pittsburgh on Sunday and will be activated from the DL before Tuesday's series opener against Atlanta. The Pirates hope, too, that Meek will come back in the form that made him such a dominant late-inning option out of the team's bullpen in 2010.
"You would like to see some stabilization, and I think Evan will provide that when he rejoins the club," manager Clint Hurdle said. "You'd like to have that proven eighth inning guy and that's what Evan became for us last year. We went through a stretch where we didn't miss a click without him, and now you feel his absence."
When Meek returns, it will be the first time this season that he will be pitching completely healthy. In addition to dealing with an illness that lingered for most of April, Meek dealt with shoulder tightness early in the season. That was after tightness in his right calf cut into his Spring Training workload.
All combined, the issues showed in Meek's results. He couldn't hold an eighth-inning lead in his second appearance of the season and labored through the majority of his 11 relief appearances.
Meek's arrival will force the Pirates to clear a spot in the bullpen for him. Jose Ascanio is an option to leave, though the Pirates would run the risk of losing him on waivers if he is designated for assignment. If the Pirates do not want to take that risk, Daniel Moskos could be optioned to Triple-A without consequence. Still, Moskos -- who has not allowed an earned run in five appearances -- has not looked overmatched at this level and provides the Pirates with a second left-hander in the bullpen.
The Pirates' game against the Reds on Thursday will be the team's last contest at Great American Ball Park this season. The last time the Pirates made their final trip to Cincinnati this early in the season was in 1981, when Pittsburgh finished its season series at Riverfront Stadium on May 7.
Shortstop Ronny Cedeno entered Wednesday riding a 26-game errorless streak. His .984 fielding percentage ranked fourth among all National League shortstops.
The Pirates still have two postponed games that have yet to be rescheduled. Tuesday's rainout in Washington is likely to be made up during the Pirates' trip back there from July 1-3. The Pirates-Dodgers game that was postponed on May 12 needs to be rescheduled as well.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.