The Pittsburgh Pirates faced a decision that most teams wish they had to make.
Pittsburgh (51-31) could have gone with Jeanmar Gomez , who surrendered an unearned run in five innings at Seattle on Wednesday in his return from right forearm tightness. The Pirates have won all eight games that Gomez has started this season.
Instead, Locke (7-1, 2.06 ERA), who was scratched from Tuesday's game due to a lengthy bullpen session in Sunday's extra-inning win over Milwaukee, is scheduled to make the start.
"Jeff was obviously very aggressive in his bullpen, because he was going in to pitch the 15th inning," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle told the Pirates' official website. "He's been a very honest self-evaluator for us."
The left-hander has been outstanding of late, with a 1.07 ERA over his last eight starts. He has allowed 30 hits over 50 2-3 innings, while yielding only one home run during that span. He hasn't lost since his first start of the season.
Locke, who received just 32 runs of support over his first 15 starts, got a season-high eight runs his last time out and surrendered two runs in seven innings of a 9-4 victory at Seattle on June 25.
"Probably had the lightest stuff he's had all season," Hurdle said. "But at the end of the day, looking at his numbers, he still found a way to keep the game in check."
He did that and more in his only appearance against the Phillies on April 23, giving up two hits over six innings in a 2-0 win.
Philadelphia (40-44), which entered Tuesday with a 1-6 record and a .203 batting average in road contests against NL Central teams, received a spark from Ryan Howard . The first baseman, who finished June in an 0-for-20 skid with 11 strikeouts, had two hits Tuesday in his first game of July.
Delmon Young , meanwhile, continued his hot hitting on the Phillies' 10-game road trip. He was mired in a 5-for-33 slump before going 12 for 26 (.462) with nine RBIs eight games into the trek.
John Lannan (1-2, 4.83) looks to build off his first win of the season. The left-hander failed to win any of his first five outings, posting a 5.84 ERA, but was in excellent form Friday against the Dodgers. He allowed one run and five hits in seven innings as the Phillies rolled to a 16-1 rout."It was a good night," Lannan said. "Just to have that offensive production - I mean, you know it's always there. But just to see it happen, that was great for the team."
Lannan last saw Pittsburgh in July 2011, while with Washington. He's 1-4 with a 4.53 ERA in nine career starts against the Pirates.
Pittsburgh's Starling Marte enters Wednesday riding a seven-game hitting streak, during which he's batting .361. His lone hit in five at-bats Tuesday was a single, ending a run of four straight games with a double and six consecutive games with an extra-base hit.
|June 24, 2013||Ryan Howard||Day-to-Day||Knee|
|June 23, 2013||Michael Stutes||15-Day DL||Right biceps tendinitis|
|June 22, 2013||Jonathan Pettibone||Day-to-Day||Back|
|June 20, 2013||Mike Adams||15-Day DL||Right biceps tendinitis|
|June 16, 2013||Jeremy Horst||15-Day DL||Strained left elbow|
|June 09, 2013||Erik Kratz||15-Day DL||Left knee injury|
|June 09, 2013||A.J. Burnett||15-Day DL||Strained right calf|
|June 06, 2013||Jared Hughes||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|June 06, 2013||Wandy Rodriguez||15-Day DL||Left forearm tightness|
|June 03, 2013||Phil Irwin||60-Day DL||Right arm fatigue|
|June 03, 2013||Jeanmar Gomez||15-Day DL||Right forearm tightness|
|June 03, 2013||Jeanmar Gomez||15-Day DL||Right forearm tightness|
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The night after a long Pittsburgh Pirates winning streak ended, one of their starting pitchers extended one of his own.
Jeff Locke won his eighth consecutive decision, Pedro Alvarez hit a three-run homer and the Pirates hung on to beat the Philadelphia Phillies 6-5 Wednesday night.
Locke (8-1) was scored upon for the first time in four home starts but extended his unbeaten streak to 16 outings. Locke, who hasn't lost since his first start of the season, allowed two earned runs on seven hits and three walks over 5 2-3 innings.
"They're going to get their hits - and I'm also going to make my pitches," Locke said. "I'm going to win some battles; they're going to win some battles. A night like tonight they're finding some holes and hitting the ball pretty hard at points, you've just got to try to stay consistent and don't teeter away from what you do well."
The Pirates took the lead with a four-run fifth punctuated by Alvarez's 21st home run.
Andrew McCutchen reached base five times, scoring twice for the Pirates (52-31), who have the majors' best record and had a nine-game winning streak snapped in the series opener Tuesday.
"I'll tell you what - there's something special going on here," Locke said. "All the guys pull for each other every night. We're not out of a game, ever. And I think the Pirates of the past could get out of a game early, we'd kind of get down on ourselves a little bit and think that hill's too tall to climb. But nothing here these guys can't do."
Delmon Young and Domonic Brown each had three hits for the Phillies, who have lost four of six. Young has 1,001 career hits.
Brown's two-run homer with two outs in the ninth pulled the Phillies within one, but Jason Grilli stuck out Young to seal his NL-best 28th save.
Philadelphia's John Lannan (1-3) fell to 1-5 in his career against the Pirates, getting tagged for four runs on 11 hits and three walks in five innings. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said, "It definitely wasn't one of (Lannan's) better games."
Still, he kept Pittsburgh off the scoreboard through four. The Pirates left seven men on base in that stretch.
Pittsburgh loaded the bases with no outs in the second, but Locke struck out and Starling Marte bounced into a double play.
"I was battling all night, and I was able to pitch myself out of a lot of jams," Lannan said. "But then I made a bad pitch to Alvarez, and that was the difference in the game."
McCutchen, Sanchez and Martin hit consecutive one-out singles in the fifth, the latter driving in a run. Alvarez followed with his fourth home run over his past six games against the Phillies.
"I was just up there trying to be ready to hit and not really sitting on anything," Alvarez said. "I was just trying to go out there and put a good at-bat together."
Those runs erased an early deficit for the Pirates. When Ben Revere drove in Brown with a bloop single to left with two outs in the fourth, it snapped a 24-inning scoreless streak for Locke at PNC Park. That's the longest home shutout streak for a Pirates pitcher since Jerry Reuss did it for 34 innings in 1975.
Locke had his scheduled start bumped back a day when he was forced to warm up in the bullpen during the 14th inning of a win Sunday. He had three consecutive home starts in which he did not allow a run between May 14 and Wednesday.
"As much as anything, he's got a very good demeanor," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. "There seems to be no panic, no urgency. He just continues to make pitches and focus on that pitch to that hitter."
Justin Wilson allowed an RBI single to pinch hitter Kevin Frandsen , but - after a Jordy Mercer error led to another Phillies run - struck out Chase Utley to end the sixth.
Jeanmar Gomez struck out pinch hitter Ryan Howard to finish a scoreless seventh and Mark Melancon worked a perfect eighth.
Brown's home run off of Grilli snapped a 27 1-3-inning scoreless streak by the Pirates' bullpen. Brown has three home runs through nine games on Philadelphia's road trip and a team-high 22 on the season.
"I'd like to make the All-Star team; it'd be a great honor," the 25-year-old Brown said. "I'm not really thinking about that right now. I'm thinking about our team and how we can start winning some games."
NOTES: Martin's second RBI came when he doubled in McCutchen in the sixth. ... Howard was not in the starting lineup for the second time in a four-game span. Howard, who snapped out of an 0-for-22 slump with two hits Tuesday, has been bothered by a sore left knee all season. He was walking gingerly after Tuesday's game, one in which he scored from first by sprinting on a double during the sixth inning. ... The Pirates activated OF Jose Tabata before the game and optioned RHP Brandon Cumpton to Triple-A Indianapolis. Cumpton was recalled to start Tuesday's game in lieu of Locke. ... Buoyed by thousands of Phillies fans who made the drive across the state, the announced paid crowd of 33,197 was the Pirates' eighth consecutive of at least 30,000 at home. ... RHP Gerrit Cole is the first Pirates pitcher to win each of his first four career starts in more than a century. He makes his fifth major league start in the series finale Thursday. LHP Cole Hamels (2-11, 4.58), who starts for the Phillies, has one win since April.