Bucs hit Marlins rookie hard, win 5th straight
PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates rode left-hander Jeff Locke's solid start and a two-out barrage to a 5-1 win over the Marlins on Tuesday night at PNC Park, the Bucs' fifth straight win.
The victory tied Pittsburgh's longest winning streak of the season and put the Pirates back over .500, at 23-22. Locke's pitch count quickly increased as he walked a season-high four batters, but he got through 5 2/3 scoreless innings and let the Bucs' bullpen take over from there.
"He made pitches when he had to," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "No inning got away from him."
Offensively, the Pirates saw every one of their starting nine get on base by the fifth inning, and all five of their runs came with two outs, two of them on second baseman Neil Walker's second-inning home run.
"When guys go out there, especially early on, and are throwing up zeros in the first three innings, we feel like if we give them a few runs to work with, it can go a long way," Walker said. "That's kind of been the case the last couple days."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Pittsburgh kid goes deep: Walker helped give the Pirates a big lead early on, launching a two-run homer to left off Urena with two outs in the second inning to make it a 4-0 game. It was a big hit for Walker, who entered the night hitting just .200 over his last 12 games following a strong start. Walker hit a career-high 23 home runs last season, but the opposite-field shot was Walker's first homer since May 9, and just his third this year.
Prado going streaking: In the top of the seventh, Miami's Martin Prado hit an RBI ground-rule double, scoring Dee Gordon. Prado extended his season-long hitting streak to nine games, and pushed his similar streak against the Pirates to 11 consecutive games.
Pedro beats the shift: Pirates first baseman Pedro Alvarez showed off his opposite-field power Monday night, ripping a line-drive homer to left-center field. On Tuesday, he showed a different benefit of the all-fields approach, beating the Marlins' shift with a ground-ball RBI single through the open left side of the infield in the fifth inning.
"That's good stuff," Hurdle said. "It's just going to help him be an overall hitter."
The lost Arq: Pirates reliever Arquimedes Caminero took the mound in the eighth inning and gave the Marlins a taste of what could have been. Caminero, whose contract was purchased by Pittsburgh from Miami this offseason, struck out the side in the eighth then completed a perfect ninth. The rookie right-hander has recorded at least one strikeout in 18 of his first 22 appearances this season.
"I just took it like they were some other team that I was trying to get out there and try to help my team," Caminero said. "I don't think about last year because last year is in the past. This is my team now, so I'm not thinking about any other team."
"The difference were the two-run outs. ... They were able to capitalize on it. They had opportunities and took advantage." -- Marlins manager Dan Jennings
"I think everyone wants to keep this going as long as we can. If we bump in and don't come out on top, then we've got another one the next day. I think the clubhouse right now is in a great place and everybody's doing a great job." -- Locke
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
As good as the Pirates' rotation has been during their five-game winning streak, the Bucs' bullpen has been equally effective. Over the last eight games, Pittsburgh's relievers have allowed only four earned runs in 27 innings, good for a 1.33 ERA.
Marlins: Miami will look to avoid a sweep Wednesday at 12:35 p.m. ET at PNC Park, where the Marlins and Pirates will wrap up their three-game series. The Marlins will start left-hander Brad Hand, who's 0-1 with a 5.48 ERA over 14 relief appearances this season.
Pirates: The Bucs have a chance to secure their second straight three-game sweep and a season-high six-game winning streak Wednesday behind starter Gerrit Cole. The right-hander is coming off his best start of the year, a career-high 8 1/3-inning win over the Mets.
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