The Pittsburgh Pirates Jeff Locke permitted just two hits over eight innings Saturday afternoon as the Bucs shut out the Cleveland Indians 1-0 at PNC Park. The crew of the Jolly Roger are 9-5 in interleague action this season.
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Clint Hurdle‘s squad shut down the Tribe’s five-game winning streak as they have brought the weekend series even at 1-1. Pittsburgh’s record stands at 46-34 and they are in second place in the National League Central Division, six games behind the St. Louis Cardinals (52-28).
Locke (5-4) permitted just two second-inning singles to Cleveland’s Yan Gomes and Giovanny Urshela in collecting his fifth victory against four losses. The 6-foot, 185-pound righthander delivered 60 of his 89 pitches for strikes in taking on 25 hitters. The 27-year-old North Conway, New Hampshire native struck out six and walked none. The Pirates have gone 23-11 in Locke’s last 34 starts at PNC Park.
Mark Melancon allowed one hit, struck out one and walked one in closing out the ninth to earn his 26th save. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound righthander is tied with the Minnesota Twins’ Glen Perkins for the Major League lead in saves. The 30-year-old Melancon fired 11 of his 19 pitches for strikes in battling five batters. He has converted 24 consecutive save opportunities and 26 of his 27 chances this season.
The Pirates pushed their only run across the plate in the home half of the sixth when Neil Walker singled on a ground ball off Cleveland starter Cody Anderson to right that scored Josh Harrison. Harrison had led off the frame with a double off the top of the center field wall.
“Wow,” was Hurdle’s first post-game reaction on the Pirates’ site. “The two guys that did the mound work were really, really good today. I can’t speak enough about Locke’s effort. He was fantastic.”
Anderson (1-1) put up a valiant effort before being handed his first loss of the season. The 6-foot-4, 235-pound rookie righthander struck out four and walked none over his eight innings of work. The 24-year-old from Quincy, Calif. hurled 67 of his 92 pitches for strikes in dueling wiht 29 Corsairs. It was the third consecutive start for Anderson in which he went at least seven 2/3 innings.
“I was every bit impressed with him today as I was before,” Indians manager Terry Francona said about Anderson on Cleveland’s web site. “He’s got the downhill plane, and off of that changeup, that really seems to be giving hitters fits. He mixes in that cutter — that’s probably the pitch he still needs the biggest work on. That’s where they took their better swings. But, man, I’m kind of nitpicking. The guy goes eight innings and gives up one.”
Andrew McCutchen‘s lead-off single in the the bottom of the fourth put his hitting streak at 11 games, which ties him with Harrison for the team’s longest of the season. The 28-year-old center fielder is within two games of the longest streak of his career, which he accomplished during his rookie campaign in 2009.
Up Next: The series wraps up Sunday with a pair of righthanders opposing each other. The Indians will give the ball to 25-year-old Danny Salazar (7-3, 3.80 ERA/1.16 WHIP). The Pirates will counter with 24-year-old Gerrit Cole (11-3, 2.20 ERA/1.14 WHIP). The afternoon matinee will get underway at 1:35 p.m. and it will be on ROOT Sports Pittsburgh.
From The Clipboard: The game lasted 2:06 and there were 37,928 in attendance at PNC Park…Coming into their Fourth Of July match-up with the Tribe, the Pittsburgh pitching staff has posted a 1.97 ERA and five shutouts along the North Shore in their last 13 contests…The home run hit by McCutchen Friday night against the Indians was his 138th with the Pirates, which ties the All-Star center fielder with Bill Mazeroski for ninth place on the club’s all-time list…Walker has a career batting average of .339 during the month of July with 18 homers and 73 RBI.