Home Pittsburgh Sports College Football Locke outpitches Bumgarner to lead Pirates over Giants

Locke outpitches Bumgarner to lead Pirates over Giants

Eric Kratz homered, Jeff Locke pitched shutout ball into the seventh inning and three ‪Pirates‬’ relievers kept the Giants off the scoreboard as the Bucs beat San Fran 1-0.

On paper, Monday night’s game at PNC Park looked like a mismatch. The Pittsburgh Pirates, who had lost 10 of their last 11 games, sent struggling lefty Jeff Locke and his 5.92 ERA to the mound to take on the surging San Francisco Giants and their horrifying, top-notch hurler Madison Bumgarner.

Fortunately for the Pirates, games are not played on paper. Bumgarner lived up to his hype, but a commanding performance by Jeff Locke and a crucial fifth-inning home run by battery mate Erik Kratz allowed the Pirates to squeak out a much needed 1-0 win in front of the home crowd.

Locke, who had given up a total of 18 runs in his past two starts, matched San Francisco’s ace pitch for pitch and threw 6 and 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball to earn his sixth win of the season.

“A start like that is what everybody is looking for,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

The Pirates lefty allowed five hits but struck out three and did not walk a single batter as Locke synced with Kratz, Pittsburgh’s newly signed replacement catcher, to throw an aggressive, effective ballgame.

“Not every game needs to be walk-less, but there’s a big difference zero and six,” Locke said. “It makes a big difference when you’re not putting guys on base. I was on the same page with Kratz all night.”

Kratz said that the key to Locke’s success was his ability to regularly find the strike zone and not become discouraged whenever the other team took advantage of a mistake.

“When you get ahead, you have the opportunity to be aggressive in your zones,” Kratz said. “He did a great job of getting ahead early and bouncing back when he made pitches that he didn’t want to make.”

Bumgarner, Locke’s counterpart, asserted his usual dominance in Monday night’s brisk 2-hour and 24-minute ballgame. It was another ho-hum, eight-inning performance, eight-strikeout performance for the lefty. Bumgarner’s ERA fell from 1.91 to an even more miniscule 1.83 with the quality outing.

But the Giants ace allowed five hits and one of them ended up on the other side of the shallow wall in left field. Kratz, the journeyman catcher who admittedly is on the team for his defense rather than his offense, got under a two-seam fastball from Bumgarner and lifted it into the outfield.

With the ball approaching the fence, Giants outfielder Angel Pagan leaped and had the ball in the palm of his glove until he hit the wall and dropped the would-be out into the left field bleachers. Hurdle said that he knew it was gone when Pagan angrily threw his glove onto the warning track dirt and the ball did not fall out.

“Anytime a player throws his glove onto the ground, I love it,” Hurdle said. “That’s what we do. He threw everything into it trying to make that catch and he didn’t come up with it.”

The homer was Kratz’s first since he joined the Pirates on June 11th. Pittsburgh’s catcher was 0-for-16 heading into his fifth-inning at-bat. While this is Kratz’s first major league home run since August 18th, 2014, the 36-year old journeyman has a history of performing against some of the league’s best. Of his 23 career home runs, Kratz has gone yard on David Price, Aroldis Chapman, Craig Kimbrel, and now Bumgarner.

After Locke left in the sixth inning, Neftali Feliz, Tony Watson, and Mark Melancon combined for 2 and 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. Melancon recorded his 20th save of the season.

The narrow win gives Pittsburgh some much needed momentum as the began its eight-game home stand against the National League West’s two best teams, the Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Pirates are 12-5 against the NL West this season and are now 6-1 at home.

With Juan Nicasio on the restricted list, Wilfredo Boscán (1-0, 2.92) takes the mound for the Pirates as they face familiar foe Johnny Cueto (10-1, 2.10) on Tuesday night at PNC Park. First pitch is at 7:05 PM.

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