SAN FRANCISCO -- Wednesday's game once again made it evident. The Pirates need runs. They cannot always rely on their exceptional pitching staff.
The need for runs intensified Thursday, when Jeff Locke took the mound. This is second-half Jeff Locke we're talking about, not the man who put up All-Star numbers through June but the one who struggled with his walk rate since the break.
From the first at-bat of the game Thursday night, the Pirates delivered. They pounced on Matt Cain, feasted upon the San Francisco Giants' middle relievers and won, 10-5, at AT&T Park. The Pirates won their third game out of four and continued to hold off the St. Louis Cardinals, who also won Thursday.
Garrett Jones broke out of a slump with a home run into McCovey Cove. Pedro Alvarez doubled twice. The Pirates sent 11 men to the plate in a seven-run fifth inning, patiently taking their walks but pouncing on pitches they could hit.
"We had a real good night offensively off a tough pitcher early," manager Clint Hurdle said.
The Pirates scored at least 10 runs for the sixth time this season and the first time since June 28 against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Locke walked four batters in four innings, at which point Hurdle told Locke he was done, but Hurdle sent Locke to the plate in the fifth inning.
"I've pitched on the edge all season," said Locke, who noted that he hasn't changed his approach.
Locke allowed three runs in four innings. After issuing four walks Thursday night, he has walked at least four in four of his seven second-half starts. The increased emphasis on the two-seam fastball this season has caused Locke to try to paint the corner, he said, lest one of those two-seamers leaks over the heart of the plate.
"He's going to continue to work hard to get better," Hurdle said.
Jeanmar Gomez earned the win with three scoreless innings of relief.
Jones entered the game hitting .239 and was without a hit in his previous 19 at-bats.
"I'd have a good at-bat, and then I was changing things," Jones said. "I was changing my approach, not trusting in what I was doing up there. I'd have a good at-bat and then three bad ones. That led to the inconsistency."
His .295 on-base percentage and 11 home runs represented a decline from last season, when he had a .317 on-base percentage made passable by his 27 homers.
He got ahead of Cain 3-0 in the second inning. He watched a close pitch for strike one, then timed the next pitch well but fouled it off. He hit Cain's 3-2 fastball over the high brick wall in right field and into McCovey Cove on the fly.
"It's definitely a step forward," Jones said.
Jones also homered into the Allegheny River at PNC Park on the fly this season, becoming the second person ever to do so.
Cain had pitched at least seven innings in each of his past five starts and has a 2.25 ERA in that span. He had struck out 30 and walked only six in 36 innings. Thursday, though, everything the Pirates got a bat on, they torched.
In the fourth inning, Gaby Sanchez lined a ball hard off Cain's right arm, forcing Cain to leave the game. X-rays showed no break. Cain finished 3 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on seven hits.
Jones hit his homer across a right-to-left wind in the second. Two batters later, Jordy Mercer got one up into the wind, hitting his sixth home run into left field and giving the Pirates a 3-0 lead.
Alvarez hit two doubles that bounced over the outfield wall. The first one cost the Pirates a run. The second one, with the bases loaded in the fifth, scored two.
A walk and two singles would load the bases again in the fifth. Jose Tabata, who started the inning by getting hit with a pitch, hit a three-run double to put the Pirates ahead 10-3.
Guillermo Moscoso and Jose Mijares combined to throw 2 2/3 innings and allow seven runs on four hits and four walks.breaking - pirates
Bill Brink: firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @BrinkPG. First Published August 23, 2013 5:45 AM