Postgame: Jeff Locke, Bucs beat A.J. Burnett, earn sweep

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

When Jeff Locke talked to A.J. Burnett before Friday's game, he told his mentor and friend that he was "in the big leagues for life now." After beating Burnett in a much-anticipated pitching matchup at PNC Park this afternoon, Locke took another step toward making that assertion a reality.

Since rejoining the club on June 8, Locke has pitched like a staff ace, posting a 2.23 ERA and a 5-1 record in 44.1 innings pitched. Today he allowed only three hits and one earned run in eight innings of work.

Josh Harrison, who became an All-Star this evening, contributed the game-winning run in today's 6-2 victory. He led off the third inning with a triple to right-center and scored on Neil Walker's sacrifice fly.

Just as Harrison contributed over 1.0 WAR in a month while stabilizing right field in May, Jeff Locke has now added 0.8 WAR after being called up to help plug holes that emerged in the Pirates' rotation in June. Both players have filled in and provided contributions far beyond what anyone would have projected. They are two huge reasons why the Pirates have surged back into the playoff hunt and if they continue to perform well, they will provide a couple more reasons to be bullish about these Bucs as they march deeper into the second half of the season.

Burnett talks about Pittsburgh return

As Burnett strolled out to take the mound in the first inning of tonight's game, the scoreboard in left field played highlights of right-hander's time in Pittsburgh. Burnett watched the whole thing, even delaying his warmup pitches until it ended. When the crowd gave him a standing ovation, Burnett took off his cap waved to the crowd and pointed to the Bucs' dugout.

"The video and everything caught me by surprise," Burnett said in a quiet Phillies' clubhouse. "I don't know what else to say about it. It was moving, for sure."

"[The fans] made me feel at home. [The ovation] caught me off guard. I didn't know what to expect coming in. Very classy."

Burnett add that it made him feel good to see how Locke is pitching.

"You don't to see him do it against us. I obviously wanted to see us come out and beat him, but you see how he is taking the ball, you see his approach, you see how he is just confident, that's what he is. He's done it in the past and now he's back up and that's what he's doing."

Today's game had a different feel

Locke said pitching against Burnett made today's game feel very different.

"It didn't even feel like we were playing a major-league baseball game," Locke said. "We spoke really briefly before we got in the bullpen, just told each other to have fun today, go get ‘em. Pound down."

Pirates finally get a sweep

With today's win, the Pirates netted their first elusive sweep of the season. The Bucs had seven other opportunities to complete a sweep this season and fell short.

The Bucs head off to St. Louis with a 47-41 record and are now alone in second place, a half game ahead of the Cardinals and 4.5 behind the Brewers.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Bucs Dugout

You must be a member of Bucs Dugout to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bucs Dugout. You should read them.

Join Bucs Dugout

You must be a member of Bucs Dugout to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bucs Dugout. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker