Winning record not Bucs' lone focus in stretch run

Winning record not Bucs' lone focus in stretch run

PITTSBURGH -- Manager Clint Hurdle acknowledged before the start of the Pirates' last homestand that, while important, breaking a 19-season streak of losing seasons has not been the team's lone September focus.

Some lineup and pitching staff decisions have been made with an eye on 2013, in consultation both with his aides and with general manager Neal Huntington.

"Up front, we've made sure to field a team that can win the game that night," Hurdle emphasized. "We have talked about personnel from a coaching angle and with Neal -- I got his perspective.

"We've tried to keep [the push for .500 and planning for next season] in perspective. The two most significant things have been [Jeff] Locke and [Kyle] McPherson in the rotation. We believe in those guys."

The Pirates have lost all seven of the starts made by rookies Locke and McPherson -- part of a 6-19 September that has seriously jeopardized their chances at those elusive 82 wins.