CHICAGO -- Jeff Locke's second start for the Marlins looked as good as his first. That is, until the fifth inning of what became a 10-2 loss to the Cubs on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.
Facing Jonathan Jay with two outs and Miami holding a 1-0 lead, Locke forced the left-handed hitter into a 1-2 count. But the next two pitches -- one of which appeared to be inside the strike zone and another that looked close -- were called balls. The inning was extended and the Cubs capitalized, putting up a four-spot in the fifth before tacking on six more in the seventh.
"I thought he was really good," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Locke. "It was just the fourth out you ask him to get in the fifth was the big one. Once he punches out Jay there for the third out, we just weren't able to get the fourth one."
As Mattingly hinted, one of the called balls to Jay was questionable. It appeared to be over the plate and in the lower third of the zone, but the at-bat kept going and Jay walked. Then Kristopher Bryant did, too. The stage was set for Anthony Rizzo, who homered to right-center on a changeup up in the zone.
According to Statcast™, the blast traveled an estimated 375 feet with an exit velocity of 106 mph. It was Locke's first homer allowed since Sept. 5.
"He sees the ball real well off me, since we were about 19 years old," Locke said. " Since his days with the Red Sox [in the Minors], he's been terrorizing me a little bit. I'll get him though. I'll get him."
Locke still had the chance to get out of the inning. Facing Willson Contreras with two outs, Locke threw a well-located fastball that should've been out No. 3 -- again -- but an error by J.T. Riddle kept the inning alive.
Jason Heyward, who came into the game with a good track record against the left-hander, finished Locke's night with a double to right.
"If he sees it that way then they're balls. That's the way it is. That's why we have umpires," Locke said. "It doesn't mean you don't have to come back and make a better pitch on the next one. We don't make any excuses."
Overall, Locke went 4 2/3 innings, giving up four hits and four runs (three earned). He walked four while striking out three in his second start of 2017. Locke missed the first two months of the season due to biceps tendinitis.
The left-hander relied on a greater twist in his delivery like he did early in his career, and it worked early on. He allowed two singles through four innings, and recorded his first 14 outs without any issues. It was just the 15th -- or perhaps the 16th and 17th -- where things went wrong.
"We probably would've sent him back out there [for the sixth] at that point. I think his pitch count was pretty good," Mattingly said. "So really, [Locke] throws five scoreless for us. Can't really ask for much more than that."