The Pittsburgh Pirates was able to sail to another victory Wednesday afternoon on Jeff Locke‘s outstanding pitching performance, as the Bucs defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 3-1.
With the raising of the Jolly Roger at PNC Park for the second day in a row, the Pirates are 69-64 and remain in third-place in the National League Central Division, just 4 1/2 games behind the first-place Milwaukee Brewers (73-59).
Today’s victory also means that Pittsburgh is only one game back of the San Francisco Giants (69-62) for the second wild-card playoff berth in the National League.
Locke threw at least seven innings for the eighth time this season as he walked two and struck out three on 98 pitches over 7 1/3 innings of work. He allowed one earned run on six hits in picking up his sixth win of the season against three losses.
The 6-foot, 185-pound left-hander’s only blemish on the afternoon came in the top of the third when Matt Holliday took him deep to left-center field for his 13th home run of the season.
The bullpen did not disappoint as lefty Tony Watson answered Clint Hurdle‘s call and kept St. Louis off the scoreboard to finish the eighth inning. Next up was right-hander Mark Melancon in the ninth, who allowed only one hit as he closed the door on the Cards to pick up his 24th save this season.
Pittsburgh’s offense got going after St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright hit Russell Martin with a pitch in the bottom of the second. Then, it was time for Ike Davis to claim the spotlight for the second game in a row, as he launched his 10th home run of the season to right-center field to make the score 2-0.
Andrew McCutchen added an insurance run in the third frame on his sacrifice fly to center field that scored Locke from third and make the score 3-1.
Wainwright saw his record drop to 15-9. The 6-foor-7 right-hander gave up three earned runs on eight hits, walking one while striking out five on 103 pitches over six innings. Righty Carlos Martinez kept the Pirates’ cannons quiet for the remainder of the game.
The Cardinals are now 3-5 in Wainwright’s starts since the All-Star break after going 12-4 behind him in the first half of the season.
The Pirates are off on Thursday. They come back on Friday to open a three-game series with Cincinnati at PNC Park. The first pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.
The 30-year-old right-hander will be making his 26th start and 27th appearance of the season on Friday night. Volquez has contributed a 10-4 record in his last 19 starts. The game will be broadcast by ROOT Sports Pittsburgh.