PHILADELPHIA -- Jeff Locke eliminated two issues Tuesday night that plagued him during his previous two starts. He did not allow a home run and he limited his walks.
The sharp outing resulted in a 2-0 Pirates win against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, evening the four-game series at a game apiece. The Pirates have won four of their past five games.
Not only did Locke keep the Phillies in the ballpark, something he struggled with in his previous start, he kept them off the scoreboard. Locke allowed two hits in six scoreless innings, walking two and striking out six.
In his previous start against the Atlanta Braves, Locke allowed three home runs and four walks in 4 2/3 innings. He walked eight batters during 9 2/3 innings in his past two starts.
The Pirates had a man in scoring position in each of the first three innings but could not capitalize. They did in the fourth, when Brandon Inge, who joined the team after starting the season on a minor league rehabilitation assignment, doubled and scored Neil Walker.
Tony Watson pitched a perfect seventh inning. Singles by Laynce Nix and Michael Young off Mark Melancon brought Ryan Howard to the plate in the eighth, but Howard grounded out to end the inning. Jason Grilli earned his eighth save.
Locke worked with men on base all night. He walked Michael Young and allowed a double to Ryan Howard in the first, but stranded them. Starling Marte dropped a ball off the bat of Ben Revere and Locke walked Erik Kratz to put two men on in the second, but he struck out Jimmy Rollins to end the inning.
Locke pitched a clean third. He increased the degree of difficulty in the fourth but kept the Phillies scoreless. John Mayberry Jr. roped a ball to the right-field corner that Jose Tabata did not field cleanly, resulting in a triple. Locke then hit Domonic Brown. Revere grounded to third, but Mayberry broke for home and was out at the plate. Kratz grounded into a double play to end the inning, and the 31,002 at Citizens Bank Park voiced their displeasure.
Marte led off with a hit and Andrew McCutchen reached on an error in the first, but the Pirates couldn't score. Gaby Sanchez watched a fastball for strike three and Revere made a sliding catch in center field to rob Russell Martin of an RBI hit.
Locke fought lefty Cole Hamels, who didn't allow much to the Pirates. Inge's double provided the only runs until the eighth, when Sanchez homered to right field to extend the Pirates' lead to 2-0. Hamels threw 82 of his 118 pitches for strikes and allowed two runs in eight innings.
Martin extended his hitting streak to eight games with an eighth-inning single.
Bill Brink: email@example.com and on Twitter @BrinkPG. First Published April 24, 2013 2:00 AM