Rockies hit three solo homers off Locke, beat Pirates, 8-1
July 27, 2014 12:00 AM
Jeff Locke, seen here in a file photo, surrendered six earned runs in Saturday's loss to the Rockies in Denver.
By Jenn Menendez / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
DENVER — The Colorado Rockies slowly picked away at Pirates starter Jeff Locke Saturday night, driving three solo home runs out of Coors Field on their way to an 8-1 win.
Locke struggled with his command in spots, giving up six earned runs and 10 hits, but he also received little support from a Pirates offense that went flat for the second night in a row.
Rockies left-hander Tyler Matzek put the Pirates down in order in the first and third, only once allowed two baserunners, and held them to three hits in seven innings.
The Pirates have been outscored, 16-2, in the past two games and held to nine hits in 18 innings.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a poor approach. I’d say right now they’re getting the balls and making it tough on us,” manager Clint Hurdle said.
“We’ve seen five quality starts in a row from their staff, …Watch where they’re locating balls. Watch the pitches they’re making.
“We had a couple opportunities to get some traction, get some momentum in an inning but double-play balls [snuffed] it out. …
“The game demands execution, and right now that hasn’t been part of what we’ve been able to do here the last two nights with any consistency.”
Jeanmar Gomez gave up two more runs in the eighth when Josh Rutledge dropped in a two-run single.
Ike Davis hit a pinch-hit home run off reliever Brooks Brown with one out in the ninth, but that was it for the offense.
Hurdle shuffled the lineup in an effort to create a spark after an 8-1 loss Friday night, bumping Josh Harrison to the leadoff spot and dropping Gregory Polanco to No. 7.
He also shifted Jordy Mercer (1 for 3, hit-by-pitch) to the No. 2 hole, but there was little production anywhere in the lineup for a second consecutive night.
The Pirates stranded runners in the second, fourth and fifth and went 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position.
Asked if he was likely to stick with the same lineup today, Hurdle answered:
“I don’t know. We’ll show up [today] and we’ll figure it out.”
The Pirates put two on in the seventh for the only time all game, but Brent Morel grounded into a double play to end the inning.
Locke finished 62⁄3 innings, giving up five runs and 10 hits, three of which were home runs. He walked three (one intentionally) and struck out six.
The first two home runs were off fastballs up, the final one on a change-up that didn’t move.
“All the home runs. Big field, you know balls drop in, balls go over the fence,” Locke said. “I was sporadic with the control but don’t think it really contributed to the runs that much. Just not 100 percent sharp, I guess. It’s a good hitting team.”
Matzek went seven innings, giving up just three hits. He walked two and struck out three.
“He got outs when he needed to, which was pretty much the whole night,” Harrison said.
“Even if he fell behind in counts, he made pitches.
“He was getting ground balls. He was getting us to miss pitches. … He was able to make pitches when he needed to which is the name of the game.”
The Rockies got started in the third when Josh Rutledge stroked a single to put the Rockies up, 1-0, after Charlie Blackmon had reached second on Mercer’s throwing error and stole third.
Matzek had singled to lead off the inning. Blackmon hit a sharp ball to Gaby Sanchez who threw to Mercer to get the lead runner at second.
Mercer fired back, but Sanchez had not recovered and Locke had not reached the first-base bag.
Locke gave up the first home run to Drew Stubbs on a 93 mph fastball to open the fourth. He also gave up solo shots to Nolan Arenado and Corey Dickerson in the seventh before Hurdle went to his bullpen.
Jenn Menendez email@example.com and Twitter @JennMenendez.
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