Pirates Beat Brewers 5-2 with Four Homers, Another Locke-Down

Pedro Alvarez Batting

Pedro Alvarez hit his 9th and 10th home runs of the season. (Photo credit: David Hague)

Forgive me for the obvious pun, I couldn’t resist.

The Pirates took a bite out of Mike Fiers early and often by hitting three home runs, more than enough for Jeff Locke and the bullpen to finish off a 5-2 victory Saturday afternoon at Miller Park. Powering up against Fiers (and later against a reliever) supplied the Bucs’ 9th win in the last 56 games in Milwaukee. Pedro Alvarez and Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez both hit two home runs at the Wisconsin Launchpad.

Andrew McCutchen hit his third home run in as many at-bats against Fiers, a line-drive shot in the Top 1st to give the Pirates a lead they would not relinquish. Alvarez (2nd inning, 9th inning) and Neil Walker (4th inning) supplied the other home runs, huge shots into the right field seats. Alvarez’s second bomb in the 9th off Alfredo Figaro flew 459 feet onto the concourse above the second deck. Both Alvarez and McCutchen now have seven career multi-homer games, tied for 15th in Pirates history.

Unlike earlier this season when the Pirates hit four home runs and lost, the pitching staff was able to use the supply of offense to wrap up a victory.

Jeff Locke delivered one of his best outings of the season, pitching six shutout innings and striking out seven Brewers’ hitters. Despite getting six baserunners on the Pirates starter, no Milwaukee runner got into scoring position after the 2nd innings. Locke located his pitches terrifically, earning his fifth win with plenty of called strikes to frustrate the Brewers at the plate and notch another quality start.

If Locke is going to stave off the regression monsters, a start like Saturday’s would be a good way to do it. His seven strikeouts were a season high, and brought down his season FIP to 4.26 from 4.49. The difference between his FIP and ERA is still 1.81, which would be the largest (by a lot) in more than 50 years. That element of his domination, along with a low BABIP and high rate of stranding baserunners, makes it likely Locke’s run-prevention numbers are still due to go up. However, if he can continue to look this strong against the Tigers, Braves and Giants, his projection will start to be better than that of a back-of-the-rotation starter.

Every run in Saturday’s contest came on a home run, including Milwaukee’s Gomez hitting solo shots off Justin Wilson and Tony Watson. If the Pirates want to finally win a series at Miller Park, Wandy Rodriguez can give them a chance going up against Yovani Gallardo.

James Santelli

Author: James Santelli

James covers the Pirates beat for Pirates Prospects. He is a Broadcast Journalism student at USC and has written for such outlets as NBCOlympics.com, Pittsburgh Magazine and the official websites of the Los Angeles Clippers and Pittsburgh Penguins. James previously covered the Pirates for Pittsburgh Sports Report. He also broadcasts play-by-play for the USC Trojans baseball team and was awarded the 2013 Chick Hearn Memorial Scholarship and Allan Malamud Scholarship. James dispenses puns at his Twitter account (@JamesSantelli) where he promises to write in first-person. Google

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  • kidic56

    With the way Locke’s pitching, and Wandy, and AJ, and Liriano, and even Gomez, who might be the one going to leave the starting roster when Morton gets back? Gomez seems to be the choice, but I’m glad it’s not me making the decision!

    • deacs

      Gomez is destined for long relief if Morton, Karstens or J Mac can actually finish a rehab assignment. Keep the puns coming. You know there’s at least one or two other headlines out there saying something similar. I’ve come to accept a .200 average, too many K’s, good 3B and 30 HR’s from Pedro and I can live with that. And when he’s hot NO ONE is better on the Pirates. Not even Cutch.

  • emjayinTN

    If it was up to me, I would not change anything unless somebody implodes. Karstens, Morton, and McDonald are guys who have not established the type of consistency through the years that assures one of holding a Rotation spot. Burnett, Rodriguez, and Liriano have done that, Locke continues to pitch like a #2 or #3 guy in a Rotation, and Jeanmar Gomez stepped up for this team and deserves to stay until his performance falters. If he continues pitching strong, then Morton may be a possibility for the bullpen.

    • deacs

      If Gomez can start going 6 or 7 innings I’m right there with you but I’m not sure he can do that. Plus I read (on this site I think) that once Morton comes back it’s his spot to lose and Gomez goes to long relief.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

      emjay…I am with you…I never thought I could like JeanMarie (as I called him), but he has made me a believer.

      Why would Hurdle want to remove a guy pitching as well as he is. It ain’t like Morton’s gonna come in and throw 7.

      Maybe Charlie and JeanMar will ‘piggyback’ for awhile?

      Foo

      • leadoff

        Seems as though I tried to tell you when they kept JeanMarie that they made a good decision, now I am going to tell you that removing him and inserting Morton is also a good decision. JeanMarie is a long relief, 3-4 inning pitcher.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

    I wasn’t real thrilled with how Locke regressed today.
    :)

    FIPing Foo

    • leadoff

      I did not know he regressed, but when he does if it is in late August I will say thank him for the great 5 month ride. I could care less about some stat somewhere that predicts the future, but I am concerned that Locke is not very big and I don’t know how long his strength will hold out.
      I am glad that Hurdle decided to kept his stats in his pocket and play those left handed hitters today, we might be 2-0 in series if he plays them the first game.

  • jon6er

    I can only say this so far about Liriano and that is he greets every starter at the dugout steps when they are done and that is a very positive thing. I think and I hope that he has that feeling that something special is brewing. Professional athletes get a feeling when they have been around for a while. Pirates have been to the precipice two years in a row. They have a ton of upside It is all on them as players now to finish the job on the field. It is up to Hurdle and Huntington to make sure the road between Pittsburgh and Indianapolis is clogged by the John McDonald’s of baseball. I have nothing against this guy personally but he has no upside for the Pirates.

  • michaelbro8

    What’s funny is that those using FIP to prove that Locke can’t continue to be successful will be the same folks using a different stat to support why he’s being successful ( actually already happening).

  • http://twitter.com/mocasdad mocasdad

    It’s amazing that young players never improve.