Locke and longballs lay Brewers low

Mike McGinnis

The hitters bashed four home runs and Jeff Locke staved off regression for at least one more start, tossing six scoreless innings, leading the Pirates to a 5-2 win over Milwaukee

The Pirates won in Milwaukee. No, really. Okay, it's happened before. It only seems like it hasn't.

This game was all about the longball. Well, that and Jeff Locke. All seven runs scored on homers, which is fitting for that House of Horrors known as Miller Park.

The Pirates started it off in the first inning with a run that didn't involve the slumping Starling Marte. Andrew McCutchen lined his seventh homer into the left field corner, the ball bouncing off the top of the fence and over. In the second, Pedro Alvarez -- freed from Clint Hurdle's effort to singlehandedly regress Cy Estrada's reverse platoon split -- followed a Neil Walker single with a line drive of his own into the seats in the right field corner. Two innings later, Walker blasted a shot into the second deck in right for just his second longball of the season. All of this gunnery came at the expense of Mike Fiers, who's now allowed seven dingers in just 17.2 IP.

Meanwhile, Locke was cruising against a lineup stacked with right-handed hitters, one that includes five hitters batting between .313 and .341. Locke wasn't especially efficient; it took him 100 pitches to get through six innings. He allowed just three hits and three walks, though, and fanned seven. He allowed only two runners to reach second and none reached third. His final inning ended on a nifty double play started by Alvarez. The outing improved Locke's record to 5-1 and his ERA to 2.45.

Justin Wilson followed Locke and gave up a home run to the first batter he faced, the increasingly annoying Carlos Gomez. Wilson and Mark Melancon, though, combined to retire the next six hitters. In the top of the ninth, Alvarez launched his tenth home run to some remote part of Wisconsin, making it 5-1. If he hadn't done it already, Alvarez provided a conclusive answer to the question, frequently asked of late, of why he's still in the lineup. The Pirates simply don't have anybody else who's capable of this kind of game, one that increasingly includes highlight reel defensive plays.

Alvarez' second round-tripper removed the save situation, so Clint Hurdle went with Tony Watson in the ninth. Watson gave up a gopher ball to the same Gomez character, giving him three more career HRs against the Pirates than against any other team, including half of the eight HRs he's hit this year. But Watson allowed nothing else and the game ended, 5-2.

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