In his tenth attempt tonight against the Braves, Jeff Locke finally picked up his first major-league win as he shut down his former organization. He out-dueled former Bucco Paul Maholm in a close 2-1 game.
Locke threw six solid innings in what was probably his best start of his career. Despite walking five batters, he worked out of nearly every jam and allowed just one run. Jason Heyward drove in a run in the third, but that was all the Braves could get.
The Bucs got that run right back in the bottom of the third. Starling Marte was credited with a triple on what should have been a double and an error, and Chase d’Arnaud picked up an RBI-groundout to tie the game. Marte supplied the only other run of the game when he demolished a home run to CF as he gave the Pirates the 2-1 lead. Maholm went seven and struck out eight, but it just wasn’t good enough. He sure knows what it’s like to pitch well and not get any run support at PNC Park, huh?
Jeff Karstens and Tony Watson each pitched an inning to get to the ninth. Instead of sending Joel Hanrahan out for the third straight day, Clint Hurdle turned to Jared Hughes for the save. Despite an error, Hughes pitched a nice inning and picked up his second save of the year.
At face value, this was a satisfying win. Great effort by the starter and enough offense to get a win. But considering the circumstances, it just doesn’t feel good.
With the loss, the Braves were eliminated from the NL East and will have to settle for a wildcard spot. The Nationals are the 2012 NL East champions.
Pirates (78-82) – Braves (93-67)
Win: Locke (1-3)
Loss: Maholm (13-11)
Save: Hughes (2)