Use of changeup key in Locke's strong finish
Left-hander allows no hits over final three innings of outing vs. Phillies
PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates and Phillies combined to put a lot of zeros on the PNC Park scoreboard Friday night -- 25 in total -- but the Bucs had to be encouraged by the six turned in by Jeff Locke.
Locke didn't factor into the decision, as he exited long before the end of the Pirates' 1-0, walk-off victory, their first in extra innings this season. But he put together his first quality start since May 20 by holding the Phillies to six hits and a walk over six scoreless innings.
"To come out of there with no runs, I guess that's the biggest positive out of it," Locke said. "Especially a night like tonight, where it looks like one run was going to do it for either side."
Locke struggled in the early going, needing 61 pitches to get through his first three innings. All six of the hits he permitted came in those three frames, but he managed to strand six baserunners.
"He kept them off the plate," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "The first three innings, he had to pitch. He had to grind through some things."
After that, Locke and catcher Francisco Cervelli adjusted to what they saw in those first three innings. They leaned more heavily on his changeup and took advantage of the Phillies' aggressiveness at the plate.
"We switched some pitches around a little bit, started using the changeup more earlier in the count and kept them off-balance with that," Locke said. "They hit the ball where our guys were standing, and those guys made some good plays."
Added Hurdle: "What he showed me was a guy that went out there and was able to pitch without his 'A' game and still find a way to compete and keep a Major League team off the plate."
Locke gave up no hits and walked only one batter over his final three innings, leaving after throwing 95 pitches, and the Pirates' bullpen fired seven shutout innings until Pittsburgh's lineup finally broke through.
"We know our pitching staff did an incredible job just giving us the opportunity to finally come through," said Chris Stewart, who scored the winning run. "We're really proud of what they did and just glad it's over with and that we got a win at the end of the day."