Monday, October 1, 2012

Locke, Marte Lead Bucs To 2-1 Win

The first inning went down quietly; Jeff Locke tossed a clean first, and Paul Maholm whiffed a couple of Bucco pups in Starling Marte and Chase d'Arnaud, walked Cutch, and closed out on a Gaby Sanchez line out to left.

Chipper started the second with a line out to third, then Locke walked the next two Braves. Brian McCann came to his rescue, pounding a ball to Gaby, who started a 3-6-1 DP. Maholm lost The Fort on a 3-2 pitch and tried to do the same to Pedro, but he couldn't lay off a pitch down and away and fanned. JT bounced into a force, and went to second on Clint Barme's knock to left center. Locke fanned, but at least the lineup was turned over.

The bottom pair of the Bravo order went down in the third before Michael Bourne singled and Martin Prado walked on five pitches. Locke didn't want to go 3-2 on Jason Heyward, but he did, and with the runners going, he singled home Bourne and sent Prado to third. The he lost Jones on a full count change that missed low. Fortunately, Freddie Freeman went after the first pitch and grounded out to Gaby to keep it 1-0.

Maholm hung a 1-1 curve to Marte, and he spanked it up the line to left for a triple when Reed Johnson couldn't come up with the ball cleanly. d'Arnaud bounced to short, and it was 1-1 in the thrid. He got Cutch swinging at a shoetop curve; Gaby did the same thing. Locke tossed a clean fourth, picking up a couple of K. With two down in the Bucco half, JT took a change up that was down and away to right for a double. That earned Barmes an intentional walk to bring up Locke, who was punched out again.

After fanning Maholm to open the fifth, Locke lost Bourne on a 3-2 fastball; that's his fifth free pass. This one was erased, though, when The Fort tossed him out trying to swipe second. Prado flew out to end the frame. Maholm seems to like hanging pitches to Marte. This time it was a change, and Starling blasted it over the wall in center to give the Bucs the lead. After d'Arnaud lined out, Cutch smacked a curve to left center for a ground rule double. PM pounded Gaby inside; on a 3-2 pitch, he lined a shot to third that turned into a DP as Cutch was on the move. Good thought; bad luck on ball placement.

In his most impressive work of the night, Locke battled Heyward for 10 pitches, never giving in and throwing strikes on the black to get him to fly out and got the duo routinely. Locke went six, giving up a run on two hits and five walks with six K after 105 pitches. The key with Locke will be making him more aggressive in the strike zone; he's effective when ahead but that's not nearly often enough. Still, a good final outing for the rookie. The Bucs didn't pad the lead, going down in order.

Jeff Karstens climbed the hill in the seventh and put Atlanta away without a peep. Maholm did ditto to the Bucs, ending his night giving up a pair of runs on five hits and eight K. Tony Watson toed the rubber in the eighth. With two down, he put Prado aboard via the free pass. Heyward flew out, and like yesterday, there were just three outs left to nail down.

Peter Moylan took the ball in the bottom half and put the Bucs away in order. But it wasn't Hanny time; it Jared Hughes that came out in the ninth (back-to-back appearances made by Hanrahan), and Jordy Mercer went to second. After an out, Freeman reached when Pedro misfired on a throw across the diamond, and Jose Constanza came in to run. Using the bat an old Bucco to beat the Buccos ploy that worked so well for the Reds last night, the Bravos sent up Lyle Overbay. He got good wood to the ball, but lined out to Marte. McCann tapped back to the mound, and the Bucs had a win. Hey, they're undefeated in October!

Good to see guys like Starling Marte and Jeff Locke taking advantage of the last few innings lweft in the season. Marte had his fifth long ball, Locke his first win, and Hughes his second save. It's all good tonight.

Tommy Hanson and Kevin Correia take the mound tomorrow night.

  • Andrew McCutchen, as the Pirate rep, presented the retiring Chipper Jones with one of the specially branded bases used during this series, and club president Frank Coonelly handed Chipper a $5,000 check made out to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, one of the charities close to Jones' heart.
  • Pirates pitchers fanned 226 batters during September, the highest total for any one month in club history. But Pittsburgh's own batters struck out even more times during the month: 237.
  • The Pirates will finish this season with the second-highest attendance in club history. The 2012 total is 2,055,576 after tonight. The club will surpass the #2 Three Rivers Stadium crowd of 1990 (2.065 million), though the top spot is safe: 2.464 million in PNC Park's first season, in 2001.
  • Dave Littlefield, former Bucco GM who now works for the Cubs as a special assistant, was in attendance tonight. He was part of the 15,009 in the yard tonight.
  • The Bucs victory clinched first place for Washington; Atlanta will be the #1 wildcard team.

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