Pirates' Locke winless in 7 starts
Jeff Locke's All-Star season is turning into a nightmare.
Locke's winless streak reached seven starts as Aramis Ramirez had three hits, including his 350th career home run, and drove in four runs to lead the Milwaukee Brewers over the Pirates 7-6 on Tuesday night.
Locke didn't factor in the decision, but helped put the Pirates in a 5-0 hole by giving up five runs and eight hits in 4 2-3 innings. He is 0-2 with a 7.02 ERA in his last seven starts after beginning the season 9-2.
The last three starts have been particularly rough with Locke allowing 16 runs and 23 hits in 11 1-3 innings.
''I continue my work during the week like I have all season,'' Locke said. ''Mentally, it becomes kind of a challenge at times. I always try to take the good and move on. I'm 25 years old and I know all the struggles I go through now will make me better down the road.''
Locke said the rest of the Pirates' starting pitchers are helping him keep his spirits up.
''I've got a lot of confidence building from my teammates,'' he said. ''Charlie (Morton) has been through some tough times. A.J. (Burnett) has been doing this long enough to know not every day can be Thanksgiving. It can be frustrating, but I haven't lost a lot of sleep over it.''
Pittsburgh lost its third straight game and dropped 1 1/2 games behind St. Louis in the NL Central after the Cardinals beat Cincinnati 6-1 on Tuesday night.
The Brewers won their third in four games. Rookie pinch-hitter Caleb Gindl drove in the winning run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning.
With the game tied 6-6, Rafael Betancourt hit a one-out double off Bryan Morris (5-7) and took third on Scooter Gennett's single. Gindl then lifted a fly to right that scored Betancourt.
Pedro Alvarez went 4-for-4 with a walk, and hit his NL-leading 32nd home run for the Pirates. Neil Walker had a three-run homer among his two hits. Andrew McCutchen, Andrew Lambo and Felix Pie also had two hits.
Earlier Tuesday, the Pirates acquired right fielder Marlon Byrd and catcher John Buck from the New York Mets to bolster an offense that ranks 24th in the major leagues in runs. Both players are expected to join the team on Wednesday.
''Marlon Byrd is an impactful bat with significant numbers against left-handed pitching, and John Buck is a strong receiver who works well with a pitching staff,'' Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. ''Those were areas we were looking to improve upon and strengthen, and the trade also adds a couple of layers of experience to our club.''
Milwaukee's Norichka Aoki reached base in all five plate appearances, with two singles and three walks. Jonathan Lucroy added three hits, and Gennett had two.
With the Pirates down by a run, McCutchen doubled, and Alvarez walked with one out in the ninth, but Jim Henderson held on for his 22nd save in 25 opportunities.
Rob Wooten (3-0) allowed Alvarez's homer but pitched 1 1-3 innings for the win.
''It was a strange game. Real strange,'' Walker said. ''Back and forth, back and forth. But it was no different than what we've played all year. Down 5-0, a lot of teams pack it in. But we have a lot of heart, and nobody is throwing in the towel until the last out.''
Brewers starter Kyle Lohse also struggled, giving up five runs and 13 hits in 5 1-3 innings. He had been 4-1 with a 2.05 ERA in seven starts since the All-Star break.
Alvarez tied it 6-6 by lining a solo home run off the right-field foul pole, snapping a tie with Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt for the league lead.
''Alvarez is hot and he just smoked that ball,'' Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said.
Milwaukee had gone ahead by a run in top of the inning when Ramirez lined a two-out RBI double to center that scored Lucroy, who had singled.
A first-inning run scored when Ramirez grounded into a double play. He hit a solo home run, his eighth of the season, with one out in the fourth. After Lucroy hit a two-out RBI single in the fourth, Ramirez followed with a two-run double that put the Brewers up 5-0.
Coincidentally, No. 350 came just a short walk from where Ramirez hit his first career homer - a shot that came against his current team. While playing for the Pirates on June 12, 1998, Ramirez took Milwaukee's Scott Karl deep at Three Rivers Stadium.
The Pirates came back to tie this one with four runs in the fifth and one in the sixth.
Pie drove in the first run with a pinch-hit double that bounced off Aoki's glove in right field. One batter later, Walker hit his ninth home run, a three-run shot that carried over the right-field stands.
Pie, who remained in the game to play left field, made it 5-5 in the sixth with a run-scoring single, but the Pirates were never able to gain a lead.
''It's a good win for us,'' Ramirez said. ''We're in fourth place (in the NL Central) and we're not going to playoffs, but it's fun to play teams that are going to the playoffs. This felt like a playoff game.''
NOTES: Pittsburgh LF Starling Marte was examined by hand specialist Thomas Graham on Tuesday, and no structural damage was found in his bruised right hand. Marte, on the disabled list since Aug. 19, was told he can't swing a bat for at least two more weeks. ... Milwaukee rookie LF Khris Davis' 11-game hitting streak ended as he went 0-for-5. ... Pirates 1B Garrett Jones didn't start but his slump extended to 1-for-34 when he flied out with the bases loaded in the sixth inning as a pinch-hitter. ... LHP Tom Gorzelanny (3-5, 3.60) will start for Milwaukee on Wednesday night against RHP Charlie Morton (5-3, 3.42).