The Pirates rode a seven-run fifth inning to a 10-5 victory over the Giants on Thursday despite another poor start by Jeff Locke.
Locke was hitting 93 MPH fairly regularly in the first couple of innings, but he struggled with his location, and he gave up a run in the third and two in the fourth. That doesn't sound so bad, but he walked four and gave up a couple of hard-hit balls that just missed being homers.
Despite having Locke bat in the top of the fifth -- more on that in a second -- Clint Hurdle sensibly cashed in his chips and went to Jeanmar Gomez in the bottom of the inning. I implied in the podcast today that what was going on with Locke was garden-variety regression, and I still think that's mostly true -- before this month, his ERA was running about two runs ahead of his peripherals, and this month it's been the opposite. But the number of walks he's allowed this month, above and beyond the already-rather-high number he allowed in the first half, is clearly also a serious concern.
Anyway, enough about Locke. The Pirates scored 10 runs and won this game easily, so let's take the good with the bad here. The Bucs got one in the first, then two more on solo homers by Garrett Jones and Jordy Mercer in the second. Then in the fifth, after Matt Cain left the game with an injury, Guillermo Moscoso put on the first three batters, and in came lefty Jose Mijares. Pedro Alvarez, a lefty, hit his second ground-rule double of the game to bring in two runs. Then Russell Martin hit a sacrifice fly. Then Jones, another lefty, walked. Then Gaby Sanchez hit a sacrifice fly. Then Jordy Mercer singled. Then Locke, yet another lefty, singled, setting up Jose Tabata for a bases-clearing double.
All that gave the Pirates a seven-run lead, and it's thanks at least in part to Bucs lefties coming through against Mijares who usually strikes out lefties by the bushel. Cool. Anyway, Jared Hughes gave up two runs in the eighth, but the Giants never came particularly close.
The win was the Pirates' 75th of the season, and they maintained a one-game lead over the Cardinals in the NL Central.