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Locke struggles in 6-2 loss to Braves

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Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe it was the bubbly.

A day after clinching a playoff berth, the Pirates helped the Braves stop their five-game losing streak.  Facing what, right now, is probably the worst-hitting team in the majors, Jeff Locke allowed six earned runs on eight hits and five walks over four innings.  He fell behind consistently and threw only 48 of 86 pitches for strikes.

Locke survived two walks in the first, but in the second Emilio Bonifacio hit a two-run single following an infield hit by Braves' starter Julio Teheran that loaded the bases.  The Braves then effictively put the game away in the third when Teheran lined a two-out, two-run single to center.  For whatever reason, Clint Hurdle let Locke hit in the fourth and he then allowed a two-run homer, following a walk of course, to Justin Upton.  Five relievers followed Locke with four scoreless innings, to no purpose.

The Pirates' offense remained in slumber mode, as it has been for the past week.  They had opportunities, thanks to nine hits and four walks, but went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.  The two runs came on Andrew McCutchen's 25th homer in the fifth.  Much worse than the loss, Russell Martin came out of the game with what's being described as hamstring tightness after a pickoff attempt.

The loss cost the Pirates a chance to narrow the Cardinals' lead to half a game.  St. Louis lost to the Cubs, 3-1.  The Giants were scoreless early in their game against Clayton Kershaw.  Hopefully the Pirates' one-game wild card lead on the Giants, which is effectively a two-game lead, will remain intact.