Bucs even series vs. Tribe with Locke's gem
PITTSBURGH -- Jeff Locke turned off a hot Indians offense for eight innings on Saturday and Neil Walker's sixth-inning single drove in the only run he needed to give the Pirates a 1-0 victory on Independence Day.
Cleveland rookie Cody Anderson matched Locke with the exception of a brief sixth-inning sequence, when Josh Harrison doubled and scored on Walker's ensuing single.
Locke tendered arguably his career performance, needing only 89 pitches and facing one batter over the minimum. He allowed two singles and hit one batter, but two double plays turned behind him eased his workload. Mark Melancon finished up in the ninth for his 26th save, the last 24 in succession.
"Wow," was Pirates manager Clint Hurdle's first post-game reaction. "The two guys that did the mound work were really, really good today. I can't speak enough about Locke's effort. He was fantastic."
Indians manager Terry Francona, who also said both pitchers were dealing, was impressed with Locke's ability to work his changeup against right-handed hitters while successfully spinning breaking balls when facing lefties.
"Oh man, he really pitched a good game," Francona said of Locke. "You don't see a two-hour, 10-minute game very often. ...We had a couple hits, and then right away, bang-bang, he'd get the ground-ball double play. He did what you're supposed to, which was unfortunate for us."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
I'll do it myself: After Harrison led off the game with a double, Walker pulled a grounder to advance him to third, which is where he stayed. With Harrison again aboard with a double in the sixth, Walker drilled a single to score him to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead.
"Fortunately one run was enough today, and Jeff had probably his best outing of the year," Walker said.
Balk the line: After allowing a leadoff single to Jordy Mercer in the third, Anderson dropped the ball on the mound, resulting in a balk that moved Mercer to second. Locke used a sac bunt to move Mercer to third, but Anderson induced two groundouts to escape further harm. Francona said it wasn't nerves or anything that caused Anderson to drop the ball.
"He just dropped it, which was unfortunate," Francona said. "But then he made pitches."
Cutch on a tear: Andrew McCutchen's leadoff single in the fourth stretched his hitting streak to 11 games, tying Harrison's team long for the season. Also, surprisingly, it is within two games of the longest of McCutchen's career, reached in his rookie 2009 season.
"To bring in the military, and support the people who spent time sacrificing -- it's all wonderful. There's a lot going on in this generation. To go off-the-grid, hit 'pause' -- it's good for everyone, especially when you can do it with family" -- Hurdle, on how MLB celebrates Independence Day and offers a forum for fans to gather and join in
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Anderson tied a franchise-record streak with his third straight start consisting of at least 7 2/3 innings, no more than one earned run allowed and no more than one walk issued. Corey Kluber last achieved the feat for the Tribe from May 13-23 last season. It has been done seven times by a Cleveland pitcher since at least 1914. More >
This is the Pirates' 21st three-game series of the season -- but only the fifth to come down to a rubber game; the other 16 times, either the Bucs or the opposition had taken the first two installments.
Indians: The Tribe will hand the ball to hard-throwing right-hander Danny Salazar (7-3, 3.80 ERA) for the finale of this three-game Interleague set against the Pirates on Sunday at 1:35 p.m. ET. In his last outing, Salazar began his start with five perfect innings against the Rays en route to an impressive road win for the Tribe on Tuesday.
Pirates: Gerrit Cole (11-3, 2.20 ERA) takes his third crack at a 12th win and tries to build on his lifetime 6-1 record against AL teams when he faces the Indians in Sunday's 1:35 p.m. ET series finale at PNC Park. The Bucs will then take a break from Interleague Play until July 20, when they open a series in Kansas City.
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