Pirates 1, Astros 0
Jeff Locke didn’t have his best stuff Sunday. He didn’t need it
to shut down the majors’ worst team.
Locke allowed three hits over seven innings, Pedro Alvarez
homered and the Pittsburgh Pirates won for the eighth time in 10
games, 1-0 over the Houston.
Locke (4-1) won his fourth straight decision and gave up one run
or fewer for the fifth time in his past eight outings. He struck
out four and walked three.
”`Pitched’ is the imperative word,” Pirates manager Clint
Hurdle said of Locke. ”He was behind a number of counts, his
first-pitch strikes were below 50 percent… but, that being said,
he didn’t give up anything. He was able to put a foot down, get
balls on the ground when we needed them.”
In his past six outings, Locke has allowed 21 hits and seven
earned runs over 37 innings (1.70 ERA). Despite allowing the
leadoff man to reach four times, Locke permitted a runner to reach
second base only once.
”There were some pitches early on that were real good pitches
that I felt I had real good command of, but there were times in the
game that I fell behind 1-0, 2-0 and put them in some pretty good
hitter’s counts,” Locke said. ”But I was able to make pitches and
use the defense.”
The notoriously streaky Alvarez pushed his average above .200
for just the second time since the second game of the season. His
eighth home run came on the first pitch and was an opposite field
line drive down the left field line in the fifth.
Alvarez’s most recent homer was Friday – a titanic shot that
reached the Allegheny River. Hurdle quipped that his third baseman
followed up arguably his longest career home run with perhaps his
”I just remember hitting it and knowing that it was going to be
fair,” said Alvarez, who also walked in the second and flied out
to the wall in center in the seventh. ”But I didn’t know if it was
going to carry as much as it did.”
Alvarez’s longball – his third in eight games – was the lone
mistake by Astros starter Lucas Harrell, who lost his third
consecutive decision despite allowing four hits and one walk in
Through 6 1-3 innings, Alvarez’s home run and Snider’s double
were the only balls to leave the infield off Harrell (3-5), who had
a single in a rare plate appearance for an American League
”Today felt like the first game this season that I dominated
both sides of the plate with my sinker,” Harrell said. ”(Catcher
Carlos Corporan) did a great job with his homework. He had a really
good game plan and I just followed along.”
Pittsburgh’s other chance at scoring came the prior inning, when
Travis Snider was thrown out at the plate by center fielder Brandon
Barnes on a two-out single by Gaby Sanchez. The throw easily
Snider, who had doubled, and Snider’s shoulder to the chest of
Corporan did not jar the ball loose.
Off to their best 44-game start since 1991, the Pirates (26-18)
have the National League’s third-best record. They won despite the
absence of outfielder Andrew McCutchen, who was a late scratch
because of soreness in his right knee.
McCutchen said he was put at ease after an examination by
medical personnel Sunday and that he expects to play in the
Pirates’ next game Tuesday. Hurdle said he could have used
McCutchen in an emergency.
A day after his 13-game scoreless streak came to an end, Mark
Melancon worked a perfect eighth and Jason Grilli finished with a
1-2-3 ninth for his majors-leading 17th save.
The Astros, who won in 11 innings Saturday night, did not have
an extra-base hit.
”Their guy (Locke) did a good job,” Houston manager Bo Porter
said. ”He changed speeds, pitched to both sides of the plate and
kept us away from the barrel. Sometimes you’ve got to tip your cap
and give credit to the other guy.”
NOTES: Astros SS Ronny Cedeno was scratched from the lineup late
Sunday morning because of a sinus infection. … Houston has won
three of its 11 series played this season while Pittsburgh is 8-2-2
its past 12 series. … The Pirates are off Monday but then play
on 16 consecutive days. They open up a three-game series against
the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park on Tuesday. … Astros LHP Dallas
Keuchel will make his third start of the season in the opener of a
three-game series in Kansas City on Monday.