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PITTSBURGH -- Erik Bedard may not exactly be irreplaceable -- but the Pirates will not try to replace the released left-hander in their starting rotation.
Instead, as enabled by an off-day prior to Friday's beginning of a weekend series in Milwaukee, the Bucs will simply move up the other starters and have them pitch on regular four days' rest. That sets up a tentative rotation of Jeff Karstens, A.J. Burnett and James McDonald to face the Brewers.
And that would carry the Bucs into September -- when rosters and pitching options will expand.
Manager Clint Hurdle made it clear that, while general manager Neal Huntington and his staff continue to canvas the market in the days remaining before postseason rosters become frozen on Aug. 31, the Pirates' focus for pitching help remains "in-house."
Specifically, starters Jeff Locke and Kyle McPherson and lefty reliever Justin Wilson loom prominent for the September roster.
"We saw three guys the last month -- short looks, yes -- that we liked," Hurdle said, alluding to that trio. "They all handled themselves well in short snapshots.
"So we're talking about a lot of things, paying attention and making calls, seeing what the 'ask' is. If we don't like that, we've got a number of guys below in whom we have a lot of interest."
As for Bedard, Hurdle called the decision to release him "strictly performance related."
After being signed to a $4.5 million deal as a free agent in the offseason, Bedard went 7-14 with a 5.01 ERA in 24 starts.
"We tried various methods to get him to a more consistent place," Hurdle said. "Sometimes we all work in the same direction but don't get the results. He was very professional going out the door."
Andrew McCutchen is on pace for 205 hits this season, which would make him the Pirates' first 200-hit man since Freddy Sanchez collected exactly 200 in 2006.
With Neil Walker's absence due to lower back tightness, Pedro Alvarez was in the five-hole for the second straight game. Until Monday night, Alvarez hadn't hit higher than sixth in the order since July 1.
Right-hander Jared Hughes, who had stranded 24 of the 26 baserunners he had inherited heading into Tuesday, led all National League rookie pitchers with 52 appearances, 63 2/3 innings and an ERA of 2.83.
"We all play with little bruises. At 80 percent, I can still help out there. I felt better at the plate than I have in a while, so I definitely don't want to sit out now."
-- McCutchen, who on Monday rolled his ankle on the wet outfield grass for the latest in a string of recent physical mishaps, but at the same time also had his first two-hit game in a week.