CHICAGO -- Beyond Wrigley Field, the Pirates have a short-sighted rotation. But Jeff Locke has a sense his sights already have to be on 2014.
A.J. Burnett will pitch the opener of the series in Cincinnati on Friday. Then it's undeclared. However, if the games are still meaningful, Charlie Morton, who started here Monday, could go Saturday on his regular rest. And if the Bucs still need Sunday's season finale, Francisco Liriano could bounce back on three days' rest from his Wednesday start here.
The scenario omits Locke, whose August-September ERA shot to 7.05 with his one-inning, five-run turn on Sunday against the Reds in PNC Park.
It was not the swan song Locke wanted to sing for a season in which he was a National League All-Star.
"I always go back to how I made this team, how I barely sneaked in," said Locke, thinking of the door that opened for him by Liriano's recovery from a fractured right arm, "then the kind of season I had. Going from the All-Star Game to kinda ... I don't want to say completely falling apart, because I don't feel like I have. I know the results aren't the same.
"But mentally, I don't feel like I'm under construction. Physically, I don't feel like I'm dragging. It's like looking for something in the dark; you don't know exactly what you're looking for or where it is. I still feel confident and strong when I go out there. Like [Sunday], I felt I was the Pirates' best option to win that game. It's the way you have to continue to think."
Pirates' turnaround a record?
CHICAGO -- With their 90th win, the Pirates may have set a Major League record for the most successful turnaround following 10 or more consecutive seasons without a winning record.
Admittedly, the basis for comparison is limited, and the following list may not be all-inclusive. But it does indicate five earlier ruts of 10-plus seasons, and where they ended, with the old St. Louis Browns/Baltimore Orioles holding the previous bounce-back record of 89 victories in 1960 (the franchise did break even at 76-76 in 1957).
• St. Louis Browns/Baltimore Orioles: 89 wins in 1960 following 14 non-winners.
• Seattle Mariners, 83 wins in 1991 after 14 seasons.
• St. Louis Browns, 82 wins in 1942 after 12 seasons.
• Philadelphia Phillies, 81 wins in 1949 after 16 seasons.
• Milwaukee Brewers, 81 wins in 2005 after 12 seasons.
First number, last word
3: Pinch-hit home runs this season by Travis Snider, matching Jeromy Burnitz (2006) for the Pirates' most in 12 seasons, since Craig Wilson clocked seven in 2001.
"We know how to decorate the room. We just don't know how to be in the room." -- Brian, the Wrigley Field elevator attendant, on Cubs personnel readying the visitors' clubhouse for clinching celebrations -- the Braves on Sunday, the Pirates on ? -- while their team continues its 105-year wait for a World Series title
• Russell Martin was back behind the plate after being pulled in the fifth inning of Sunday's game with "left knee discomfort," apparently triggered by a swing while batting.
"He's good enough to play," manager Clint Hurdle said, implying Martin had talked his way back into the lineup. "He wants to play. We had a chat, and he said he feels good. I trust our guys."
• Three homers in his last four games before Monday's left Neil Walker within one of the career high of 14 he set last year. Walker then hit No. 14 in his first at-bat Monday night.
• Rookie catcher Tony Sanchez has become a verb since his daring, leaning, tumbling-into-the-dugout catch of a foul pop Thursday afternoon in PNC Park. "Sanchezing" now means flying through the air to unknown landing spots. The Oxford dictionary people have yet to been heard from.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.