Bucs win on another Locke off-night
SAN FRANCISCO — Wednesday's game once again made it evident. The Pirates need runs. They cannot always rely on their exceptional pitching staff.
The need for runs intensified Thursday, when Conway, N.H.'s Jeff Locke took the mound. This is second-half Jeff Locke we're talking about, not the man who put up All-Star numbers through June but the one who struggled with his walk rate since the break.
From the first at-bat of the game Thursday night, the Pirates delivered. They pounced on Matt Cain, feasted upon the San Francisco Giants' middle relievers and won, 10-5, at AT&T Park. The Pirates won their third game out of four and continued to hold off the St. Louis Cardinals, who also won Thursday.
Garrett Jones broke out of a slump with a home run into McCovey Cove. Pedro Alvarez doubled twice. The Pirates sent 11 men to the plate in a seven-run fifth inning, patiently taking their walks but pouncing on pitches they could hit.
"We had a real good night offensively off a tough pitcher early," manager Clint Hurdle said.
The Pirates scored at least 10 runs for the sixth time this season and the first time since June 28 against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Locke walked four batters in four innings, at which point Hurdle told Locke he was done, but Hurdle sent Locke to the plate in the fifth inning.
"I've pitched on the edge all season," said Locke, who noted that he hasn't changed his approach.
Locke allowed three runs in four innings. After issuing four walks Thursday night, he has walked at least four in four of his seven second-half starts. The increased emphasis on the two-seam fastball this season has caused Locke to try to paint the corner, he said, lest one of those two-seamers leaks over the heart of the plate.
"He's going to continue to work hard to get better," Hurdle said.
Jeanmar Gomez earned the win with three scoreless innings of relief.