WASHINGTON -- The Pirates made two moves before Wednesday's series opener with the Nationals. They recalled right-handed pitcher Evan Meek from Triple-A Indianpolis and optioned outfielder Alex Presley back there.

Meek was 0-0 with a 5.59 ERA in 9 2/3 innings in nine relief appearances earlier this season. The Pirates optioned him to Indianapolis on April 30, and he didn't give up a run in four appearances for Indy.

Presley started well, getting hits in 17 of his first 19 games, but has gone just 3-for-42 in his last 15 games. He's hitting .220 this season, with two homers and seven RBIs in 34 games.

"I think, for me, we needed Alex to be able to play his game to help our offense go," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "It's been a challenge now, especially the last two weeks. We need him in the top of the lineup performing and playing his game, and right now, it's just not happening for him."

Hurdle said Presley needs to be playing to get his confidence up and his game back together, and the Pirates are hoping he can do that at Indianapolis.

The return of Meek gives the Pirates eight relievers. Hurdle said he wasn't sure how long they'd keep eight, but wanted to be sure about the situation for this game, which left-hander Erik Bedard is scheduled to start.

Bedard came out early in his last start, after pitching just one-plus inning, due to back spasms against the Nationals seven days ago. Hurdle doesn't want to be caught short-handed in the bullpen, which was busy Tuesday because Kevin Correia lasted just 3 2/3 innings in a loss to Miami.

Adding Meek gives Hurdle some help, and the manager said when the rotation stabilizes itself, they'll look at making a move.

Meanwhile, Meek just wants to come back and contribute at the Major League level.

"My main priority was working on the fastball down in the zone, to be more consistent with it," Meek said. "It's been a short stint at Triple-A, but I definitely feel on track, so I'm just going to bring that to here and do whatever I can to help this team win."

Karstens said to feel good after throwing

WASHINGTON -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said pitcher Jeff Karstens felt good after a brief throwing session on Wednesday.

The skipper said that Karstens threw 20 pitches to three different hitters, using his full assortment, and did well. Karstens has been on the 15-day disabled list since April 18 with shoulder inflammation.

"He reported that he felt fine today after throwing," Hurdle said before Wednesday's game with the Nationals. "He activated, got loose, pitched to three hitters."

Hurdle said it will be important to see how Karstens feels tomorrow, and then on the follow-up session Friday.

"[That] will give us a better read on what the next step is for him," Hurdle said.

Karstens has started three games this season and has an 0-1 record with a 4.50 ERA.

Worth noting

• The Pirates came into the series opener in Washington with a 3.21 ERA, which is third best in the National League. The Nationals, led by their solid young starters, have a 2.86 ERA that's tops in the NL, with the Dodgers second at 3.20.

• Andrew McCutchen has been on a roll lately at Nationals Park. Entering Wednesday, he was 12-for-22 (.545) with four doubles, two triples, a homer and six RBIs in his last six games in D.C.

• The bullpen entered Wednesday having gone 15 1/3 innings without allowing a run. Pirates relievers came into the game with an ERA of 2.44, fourth best in the Major Leagues behind Texas (2.16), the Orioles (2.24) and the Reds (2.35).