The Pittsburgh Pirates triumphed over the Cincinnati Reds last night 5-4 to even the series heading into tonight’s action. Locke and the Pirates were able to overcome a rocky second inning and take the second game of the series to move their record to 60-42. The Pittsburgh offense scored enough runs in the middle innings to give Locke his sixth win of the season and avoid being down two game in the series.
The Pirates jumped out to an early lead in the first inning when Jung Ho Kang hit a ground rule double to center to score Gregory Polanco, who swiped his 18th base of the season earlier in the inning. The lead would be short lived however, as Locke gave up a two run home run to Ivan De Jesus and then another run off of Jason Bourgeois‘ fielder’s choice that scored Michael Lorenzen.
Pittsburgh got one run back in the fourth inning when Pedro Alvarez singled and scored Kang. Andrew McCutchen tied the game in the fifth inning with a solo blast, his 15th of the season. Two more runs came off of Jumbo Diaz in the sixth, when he let loose with a wild pitch that scored Kang and Starling Marte singled to bring in Francisco Cervelli.
Jared Hughes was brought in for the bottom of the sixth inning and promptly served up a home run to Marlon Byrd. He did give up a double to Brayan Pena after that, but his Cincinnati teammates were unable to bring across the plate. Newly acquired relief pitcher Joakim Soria followed Hughes and made the inning interesting, issuing a pair of walks around a single. He was able to avoid disaster with a line drive back to the mound.
As usual, Tony Watson and Mark Melancon pitched the eighth and ninth innings. Watson struck out two in his inning of work and Melancon sat down one on his way to his 33rd (and league leading) save of the season. Marte added two brilliant plays to end the game, first throwing Brandon Phillips out at home and then making a spectacular catch on Byrd’s line drive.
What Stood Out
For the most part, this was a fairly pedestrian game. Locke did not make it past the fifth inning, which seems to be par for the course with him. Other than the third inning which resulted in three runs, the Reds never really got to Locke and ultimately the offense was able to pick him up. Locke is not on anyone’s shortlist to start a game in the playoffs, but he can be useful by giving the team outings like this, by keeping his team in the game.
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Marte’s two plays at the end of the game really stood out, especially considering how close the Pirates were to giving the lead up at that point. His throw to nail Phillips at the plate was on the money and the catch that he made to rob Byrd of at least a game tying RBI was very tough given the angle he took and the way he landed. He seemed to roll on the wrist, the same wrist that was hit earlier in the game, but he sounded fine in the post game interview and should not miss any playing time.
Gerrit Cole will go for this league leading 15th win when he faces off against Raisel Iglesias at 7:10pm tonight. The Reds have handed Cole two of his four losses this season, so he’ll look to reverse that trend today. Iglesias has been hit around in his previous two starts, which presents the Pirates with a great opportunity to keep the hits coming.