Locke, Kang lead Pirates to 3-2 win over White Sox
CHICAGO (AP) Less heralded than the other starters in the Pittsburgh Pirates' rotation, Jeff Locke is happy to do his part along with his more famous and accomplished teammates.
Locke allowed just two runs in six innings, Jung Ho Kang hit a two-run home run and the Pirates beat the struggling Chicago White Sox 3-2 Wednesday night for their seventh straight win.
''It just makes you proud and fortunate to be a part of it,'' Locke said. ''I think you just try to pick up where these guys leave off and try to find anyway to come up with a win.''
The Pirates, who had thrown three straight shutouts - and five in the previous six - saw their streak of scoreless innings end at 35.
Locke (4-3) gave up three hits and had a season-high eight strikeouts. He was followed by Arquimedes Caminero, Tony Watson and Mark Melancon, who combined for scoreless relief over the final three innings with Melancon getting his 22nd save.
''It's always strange to me when our pitchers give up a run,'' Pittsburgh infielder Josh Harrison said. ''It had to come at some point. I'm glad it came in a win.''
The White Sox, who snapped a string of 30 consecutive scoreless innings with two runs in the sixth, lost their season-high sixth straight.
White Sox starter John Danks (3-7) settled down after a shaky first inning to allow three runs on five hits in seven innings.
''Besides the first inning, Johnny pitched great,'' Chicago manager Robin Ventura said of Danks. ''Somehow we have to get over the first inning.''
The Pirates scored their three runs in the first inning. Harrison led off with a double, advanced to third on a sacrifice and scored on a single by Andrew McCutchen. Kang then homered to make it 3-0.
The White Sox have been outscored 56-19 in the first inning this season. The 56 runs are the most allowed and the 19 runs the fewest scored in the majors.
Danks got in a groove after the homer and retire 19 of the final 20 batters he faced.
''Got a couple of balls up in the first and then I was able to keep the ball down,'' Danks said.
Chicago didn't get its first hit until the fourth inning, and that came with two outs and nobody on - after a double play in which Melky Cabrera struck out swinging and was called for interfering with catcher Francisco Cervelli throwing to second base. By rule, the runner, Adam Eaton, was out as well.
Ventura argued the call and was ejected by home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez.
Locke cruised into the sixth inning with a one-hitter and retired the first two batters. But just when it appeared Pittsburgh's scoreless streak would reach 36 innings, Eaton drew a two-out walk and Cabrera followed with a double down the left-field line on a hit-and-run play. Eaton easily scored to make it 3-1. After a walk to Jose Abreu, Avisail Garcia singled to score Cabrera and make it 3-2.
''He had five masterful innings,'' Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. ''He's working better, he's looking better. The last two outings he's been clean.''
Pirates: LHP Starling Marte left the game in the ninth inning with left ankle discomfort. ''He tweaked his ankle when he hit the bag (in the top of the eighth) and then he probably re-tweaked it on that ball in the outfield (in the bottom of the eighth),'' Hurdle said.
UP NEXT: Pirates RHP Gerrit Cole (10-2, 1.71 ERA) leads the major leagues in wins and has won each of his last five starts with a 0.76 ERA over the stretch. Chicago counters with RHP Jeff Samardzija (4-4, 4.84), who has struggled of late.
Besides the scoreless innings streak, the Pirates entered Wednesday with a streak of 28 innings without allowing a runner to reach third base. That string also ended in the sixth at 33.