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Jeff Locke dominates as Pirates win 1-0

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Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Jeff Locke pitched brilliantly, striking out six, walking none and allowing just two hits while throwing only 89 pitches over eight shutout innings, and the Pirates beat the Indians 1-0 on Saturday.

Locke hit a batter in the first and allowed a couple singles in the second, and then retired the last 19 batters he faced against a good Indians lineup. Since it was only a one-run game, the Pirates replaced Locke with a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the eighth.

Locke mixed his pitches well and got a ton of key outs with his changeup. He also induced 11 ground balls. This wasn't just a great Jeff Locke start, it was a great start from anyone. In a year filled with great Pirates pitching, Locke's game score of 84 was higher than that of any Bucs pitching performance this year except Francisco Liriano's 12-strikeout performance on June 15.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but this last month has shown why you don't give up too quickly on a decent player. Since June 6, Locke has lowered his ERA from 5.37 to 4.15, pitching at least six shutout innings twice in that span.

I can't fault anyone for finding Locke's performance today unlikely, obviously. But Cody Anderson's eight-inning, one-run performance was probably equally unlikely, even against a lineup that hasn't always been productive lately. While the Bucs couldn't do much against him, though, but they did get a double from Josh Harrison in the sixth, and then Neil Walker hit a hard grounder to right for a single. With Locke rolling, that's all they would need. Mark Melancon allowed a walk and an infield single in the ninth, but got Michael Brantley to ground out to complete the save.