I don't think it would be much of a stretch to say that Adam Wainwright is one of the better pitchers in the National League. Maybe not the best, but one of the better ones. When you can go out and hit him around a little bit and score some runs you have to win that game. The Pirates did that the last time they faced him but weren't able to do so last night despite hitting three home runs and scoring four runs.
They chased Wainwright after 100 pitches in six innings. They hit three bombs off him which isn't something a lot of teams do. Russell Martin went deep, then Jordy Mercer went deeper, then Starling Marte went way deep. The first two of the home runs were solo shots while the Marte bomb pulled the Pirates within one. It wasn't enough.
The real problem here was the 2013 second half Jeff Locke. Actually you could say that he is doing the exact same thing that he did last year. Locke went only 3.0+ innings and gave up four hits while walking four. Over the second half of the season, since the All-Star break, Locke has been walking nearly five batters per nine innings of work and he threw nearly half of his pitches last night for balls. You aren't going to win doing that and if this is a repeat of last season then the Pirates are in real trouble.
What was pretty frustrating was that the Pirates, namely Clint Hurdle, just thought things were going to get better. Locke had walked three hitters in the first three innings and watching the game on TV you knew he just didn't have it. The rosters expanded so the Pirates had some extra bullpen arms so if you have to go out and get Locke after three innings you need to go do it. These games are immensely important and you gotta do what you gotta do.
Locke danced through the raindrops the first three innings only giving up two runs. The game was tied at two going into the fourth. Starting the fourth inning Locke walked the first two hitters. At this point I don't think it would have been out of line to go and get Locke, but here's the thing...nobody was even up in the pen. Someone started throwing AFTER Locke's fifth walk of the game without even recording an out in the fourth inning. What could possibly go wrong? Locke gives up back-to-back singles including a two RBI single to Wainwright before getting yanked.
I know the Pirates bullpen hasn't been good this season but walking five hitters in only three innings isn't going to cut it. You have to stop the bleeding. I saw some people were wondering allowed why John Axford was brought in and I don't really have much of a problem with that. I think it is basically a coin toss on if you are going to get a good outing from anyone in the pen not named Tony Watson or Mark Melancon but I will take that chance with how Locke looked. It was two batters too late and those two batters put the Pirates down three runs.
At the end of the day the Pirates scored four runs off Wainwright. You have to win that game. When teams like the Brewers, Braves, and Giants are losing you have to win games and the Pirates have given away a pair of wins and then should have probably got a win last night. This game isn't on Hurdle but Locke should have had a quicker yank. The Pirates really have to step up and at least salvage a win in the series. The season isn't over but games like this make it feel like things are slipping away.