Locke takes the mound as Pittsburgh seeks a seventh straight home victory Saturday while facing Diamondbacks starter Trevor Cahill , who returns after a nearly seven-week stint on the disabled list.
Pittsburgh (72-49) leads the competitive NL Central by three games largely because of a 3.12 ERA that is the best in baseball. It had lost five of its previous six but busted out of its slump after rookie Gerrit Cole pitched six solid innings in Friday's 6-2 win over Arizona.
The Pirates rank second in the majors with a 2.69 ERA at home, including a 2.29 mark during a six-game winning streak at PNC Park. Pittsburgh has won six of Locke's seven starts there, and he'll be on the hill again Saturday trying to give his team its first seven-game run at home since April 27-May 12, 2008.
Locke (9-3, 2.43 ERA), though, had gone 0-1 with a 4.96 ERA over his previous three starts before giving up two runs - one earned - in 5 2-3 innings of Pittsburgh's 3-2 loss to Colorado on Sunday."(Sunday) was definitely a step back in the right direction mechanically, mentally," Locke said. "Everything felt back to normal."
Despite Locke's four walks, manager Clint Hurdle focused more on the fact the left-hander allowed fewer than three earned runs for the 16th time.
"I'm real impressed with Locke's outing," Hurdle said. "Better tempo, better rhythm."
Locke has yet to start against the Diamondbacks (62-58), though he pitched 2 1-3 scoreless innings of relief in the Pirates' 6-3 loss Aug. 9, 2012.
Arizona's pitching staff, meanwhile, has dealt with injuries to Cahill (3-10, 4.66) and Brandon McCarthy while also shipping Ian Kennedy to San Diego at the trade deadline. The starters have a 4.68 ERA in August, and Gibson is hoping Cahill can help improve that number.
Cahill hasn't pitched since giving up six runs in 4 1-3 innings of a 6-2 loss to Atlanta on June 30. He went on the disabled list the following day with a right hip contusion, which he reportedly suffered after getting hit with a line drive that forced him to leave his start June 19.
Prior to going on the DL, Cahill went 0-6 with a 7.91 ERA over his last eight starts. Gibson, though, is confident the right-hander can bounce back.
"He's got good stuff," Gibson told the team's official website. "We need him to throw the ball good and be consistent and go deeper in games for us, and to have our rotation kind of solidified."
Cahill wasn't at his best against the Pirates on April 8, giving up four runs in five innings of a 5-3 loss despite striking out seven.
The Diamondbacks had won six of their previous eight but mustered only five hits in Friday's defeat. Cliff Pennington started for shortstop Didi Gregorius , who is 2 for 29 (.069) over his last eight.
Pittsburgh has won three of the four meetings this season.
|August 12, 2013||Cody Ross||15-Day DL||Dislocated right hip|
|August 11, 2013||Cody Ross||Day-to-Day||Dislocated right hip|
|August 10, 2013||Eric Chavez||15-Day DL||Hip and knee injuries|
|July 29, 2013||Miguel Montero||15-Day DL||Lower back strain|
|July 26, 2013||Aaron Hill||Day-to-Day||Hamstring tightness|
|July 09, 2013||Eric Chavez||Day-to-Day||Stiff right hip|
|August 11, 2013||Starling Marte||Day-to-Day||Left game - left hand|
|July 28, 2013||Travis Snider||15-Day DL||Left big toe discomfort|
|July 28, 2013||Michael McKenry||15-Day DL||Left knee surgery - out for season|
|July 23, 2013||Jason Grilli||15-Day DL||Strained right forearm|
|July 07, 2013||Neil Walker||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|July 07, 2013||Neil Walker||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The Arizona Diamondbacks have a lot of ground to make up if they are going to get to the postseason.
Martin Prado hopes that Saturday's 20-hit outburst was a step in the right direction.
Prado went 4 for 5 with a three-run home run and Paul Goldschmidt added a three-run shot and the Diamondbacks routed the Pittsburgh Pirates 15-5 on Saturday.
The Diamondbacks won for the fourth time in five games. They entered the day 8 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West and six games behind the Cincinnati Reds for the second wild card.
"I feel like this is the beginning of what we should do from now on," Prado said. "I feel like everybody contributed. We're hoping to keep having this offense all the way through the end of the season.
"Being realistic, it's not going to be like this every day, but I liked the way we prepared for the game then everybody had good at-bats."
Prado's 11th homer of the season capped a six-run third inning against All-Star Jeff Locke and put the Diamondbacks ahead 8-0. Prado has driven in 13 runs in his past 10 games.
"It's just the way baseball goes," Prado said of his RBI surge. "I'm on a hot streak right now. You might go a month and not get an RBI. I just want to ride the streak as long as I can."
Goldschmidt's 30th homer came in the ninth and tied him with Pittsburgh's Pedro Alvarez for the National League lead. Alvarez hit his 30th earlier in the game.
Goldschmidt and Didi Gregorius each had three of the Diamondbacks' 20 hits.
Gregorius, a rookie shortstop, had gone 2 for 29 in his previous eight games.
"A lot of times you can tell how a guy is going to do in the game by his batting practice," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. "Didi didn't really have a set pre-game routine until today. He's finally found a routine that works and you saw the results. I think it's going to make a big difference for him."
Trevor Cahill (4-10) earned his first win since May 17. He went five innings and allowed four runs and seven hits. He was activated from the disabled list before the game. He had been out since July 1 with a bruised right hip.
A.J. Pollock, Aaron Hill , Wil Nieves and Gerardo Parra had two hits each and Nieves had three RBIs, including a two-run double in the first inning to give Arizona an early lead.
After going 0-6 with a 7.91 ERA in his previous eight starts, Cahill struck out four and walked one.
"It felt like my debut all over again," Cahill said. "It was a weird feeling, like I hadn't done this before. I'll take the win, enjoy the great offensive support and then work on some things so I'm better in my next start."
Alvarez hit a three-run home run and Starling Marte added a solo shot for NL Central-leading Pittsburgh in the third inning, enabling the Pirates to cut the lead to 8-4.
Andrew McCutchen had three hits and Neil Walker and Jose Tabata had two each. McCutchen has had multiple hits in 10 of his past 14 games.
Locke (9-4) allowed eight runs and 10 hits in 2 2/3 innings while walking three and striking out two. He is winless in his past four starts and gave up more than three runs for just the second time in his past 18 starts.
"Today was a reality check for me, absolutely," Locke said. "Any start like that is a reality check. You set your standards high, you set your goals high and you're disappointed when you don't reach them. I wasn't sitting there pouting about it, though, when I came out of the game. It's just the nature of the game to occasionally have a day like this."
Prado's home run with two outs in the third put Arizona ahead by eight and Locke was removed after Goldschmidt followed with a single. Goldschmidt's hit was the seventh in a row by the Diamondbacks in the inning, tying a club record.
Gregorius doubled in the first run of the third and Cahill, who was hitting .063, followed with a two-run single.
The Pirates, who have dropped six of eight, cut the deficit to 8-5 in the sixth when Russell Martin doubled and scored on Tabata's single.
However, Joe Thatcher came on and struck out Walker with the bases loaded to end the threat. Thatcher has inherited four bases-loaded situations this season and has not allowed a run.
Arizona added four runs in the eighth inning on pinch-hitter Jason Kubel 's two-run single, Nieves' sacrifice fly and Gregorius' RBI single. Goldschmidt's homer in the ninth gave the Diamondbacks a season high in runs.
"Thatcher's strikeout was really big," Gibson said. "Even though the game was 15-5, it was a close game. They had a lot of pressure on us. People are going to look at score and say it was a blowout, but it was far from that. That's a good team over there and they kept coming at us."
NOTES: The series concludes Sunday with Arizona LHP Wade Miley (9-8, 3.63) facing Pittsburgh RHP Charlie Morton (4-3, 3.79). ... The Diamondbacks optioned RHP Chaz Roe to Triple-A Reno to open a roster spot for Cahill. ... Arizona C Miguel Montero , who has been on the DL with a strained lower back since July 29, began an injury rehab assignment with the rookie-level Arizona League Diamondbacks on Saturday. ... The Pirates are hopeful RHP Jason Grilli , who has been on the disabled list since July 23 with a strained right forearm, can begin throwing off a mound by next weekend. Grilli has converted 30 of 31 save opportunities.