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Pirates' no-name lineup piles up runs as Bucs win 7-3

Justin K. Aller

The Pirates scored four runs in the first and then Jeff Locke coasted through the middle innings as the Bucs defeated the Marlins 7-3 Wednesday.

The Bucs' lineup was missing Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez, but the Pirates had little trouble piling up runs after Locke gave up a run in the top of the first. Josh Harrison led off the bottom of the inning with a double, and Gregory Polanco walked. Russell Martin then walked to load the bases, and Ike Davis followed with a ground-rule double to bring home two runs. Travis Snider followed two batters later with an RBI groundout, and Jordy Mercer cashed in the last remaining baserunner with a line-drive single.

Locke gave up a single to Jeff Mathis, then a two-run homer on a pretty decent pitch that Christian Yelich still managed to hammer. After that, though, Locke dominated, retiring the last 13 batters he faced through the seventh inning. (He got some help from Jordy Mercer, who had a strong game defensively, making an outstanding play on a grounder in the fourth.) The Bucs still had just a 4-3 lead at that point -- still cause to be nervous, given the Pirates bullpen's struggles recently. (Okay, irrationally nervous -- Tony Watson and Mark Melancon are still a strong setup-closer combo.)

But in the bottom of the seventh, the Pirates put two runners on with singles, and then Russell Martin came to the plate with two outs. At one point, the Marlins got him on what should have been a third strike when he couldn't hold up on a check swing, but the Bucs caught a break when the pitch was called a ball, and Martin followed through with an RBI single. Gaby Sanchez pinch-hit for Davis and cleaned up the last two baserunners with a double to right, and the Pirates had a 7-3 lead.

Watson replaced Locke in the eighth (despite the four-run lead) and pitched a 1-2-3 inning, and Melancon pitched the ninth. Hopefully that won't come back to bite the Bucs -- I'd hate to have either of those guys unavailable in a close game later this week. Still, this was a nice win for a team that badly needed one.