Locke won't change his ways


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SAN FRANCISCO -- Jeff Locke spoke of no tweaks. No adjustments, no changes in methods, nothing to explain the increase in bases on balls issued since the All-Star break.

"My approach or mentality, nothing like that's changed," Locke said. "There's no reason for me to change. I made the All-Star team."

Locke walked four batters in four innings Thursday night against the San Francisco Giants. The Pirates scored seven runs in the fifth inning on the way to a 10-5 win, bailing out Locke, but he did not return for a chance to earn the win in the fifth despite a 10-3 lead.

Locke walked 47 batters in 109 innings in the first half of the season. In 342/3 second-half innings, he has walked 25. His walks issued per nine innings has increased from 3.9 per nine in the first half to 6.5 in the second.

Locke said he felt good, and his velocity Thursday night, when his fastball reached 94 mph, reflected that.

"Obviously, there's a lot of frustration when you want to be more efficient or you want to be better than your performance shows, but that's part of it, too," Locke said.

"I could have had the same first half as I'm having in the second half right now. It's nothing I'm going to lose any sleep over."

Locke has credited some of his success this season to an increased use of his two-seam fastball, a strength of his. He tries to throw the two-seamer on the edges of the plate to prevent the pitch, which moves away from right-handed batters, from tailing into the heart of the strike zone.

"I don't think I really ever do miss middle," Locke said. "I miss off the plate on both sides. That's going to come back and bite you when you can't get it back in.

"If I could go out there and just pump the strike zone, I would. I think sometimes trying to be too fine, and realizing that it is really hard to hit a fastball down the middle. Sometimes giving hitters a little bit too much credit."

Despite leading the National League with 72 walks, Locke has a 3.01 ERA.

Rodriguez update

Manager Clint Hurdle said Wandy Rodriguez finished his simulated game Thursday, but felt pain in his left forearm in the second inning.

"It wasn't like all of a sudden you went, whoa, there's no fastball velocity, whoa, there's no spin to the breaking ball," Hurdle said Friday. "He felt something that he wasn't comfortable with."

Rodriguez has been on the disabled list since early June. He is scheduled to visit noted sports orthopedist Dr. James Andrews early next week. This is the second time Rodriguez's rehabilitation has been shut down.

Marte still out

The Pirates again held Starling Marte, who has not played since Sunday, out of the lineup Friday night because of his right hand contusion.

KDKA-FM radio reported that Class AAA Indianapolis outfielder Andrew Lambo was traveling to San Francisco, likely to provide insurance in case Marte needs to go on the disabled list.

Warning track

After three doubles bounced over the outfield wall Thursday night at AT&T Park, Hurdle went out to look for himself.

"I wanted to make sure my eyes weren't lying to me," he said. "The warning track is extremely firm."

Buried treasure

Jason Grilli (flexor strain) will throw a bullpen session Sunday and possibly a 25-pitch simulated game Wednesday, Hurdle said.

RACE FOR

OCTOBER

How the top of the NL Central Division stands:

Team W L GB

Pirates 75 52 --

Cardinals 75 531/2

Reds 73 55 3

• Friday

Pirates @ Giants, late

Cardinals 3, Braves 1

Brewers 6, Reds 4

• Today

Pirates at Giants, 9:05

Cardinals vs Braves, 7:15

Reds vs Brewers, 7:10

pirates

Bill Brink: bbrink@post-gazette.com and on Twitter @BrinkPG. First Published August 24, 2013 4:00 AM


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