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Hurdle not fretting Melancon's early woes

Infielder Sellers making strides on rehab assignment

PITTSBURGH -- Pirates closer Mark Melancon suffered his first blown save of the year in Tuesday's 9-8 loss to the Cubs, giving up three hits, two walks and three runs in a messy ninth inning. It's the second three-run inning of the season for Melancon, who now has an 8.53 ERA.

Melancon was not available Wednesday, but manager Clint Hurdle said he will remain in the closer role.

"He's not available tonight based on the volume of pitches last night," Hurdle said before the game. "He's going to close Thursday if we have a lead late. It's one blown save for me. It would be an absolute overreaction for one blown save to make a switch now. Obviously, the two three-run innings get your attention, but for us, it's pitch execution as much as it is anything, and I still believe the velocity will get back to were we've seen it."

Melancon's fastball velocity has been down more than four miles per hour from last season.

120 Sports: Analyzing Melancon's velocity

"When you don't have that extra three or four miles per hour, it's more trackable movement where the hitter can make an adjustment," Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage said. "The hitter can make an adjustment and try and locate the pitch a lot easier, as opposed to when Mark is on top of his game.

"We're just going to hang with him and he's going to come back, he'll be fine."

• Infielder Justin Sellers (sore right Achilles tendon) went 2-for-2 with a walk Monday in his first rehab game for Class A Advanced Bradenton. He went 0-for-3 on Tuesday night. Sellers might be able to return from the disabled list before the end of the month.

George Von Benko is a contributor to
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