For seven innings this was a close ballgame that was pitched well by both Jeff Locke and Kyle Kendrick. Then the eighth inning happened. The Pirates busted open a 2-1 game with four runs on five hits and two errors. The Phillies are not a good baseball team and Kendrick kept them in it for as long as he could before the Pirates offense went off. The Phillies did get back into it late in the game but the Pirates were able to hold on. Story of the season.
Locke was about as bad as you could get in his last outing where he could barely throw a strike and didn't last long against the Cardinals. Tonight he was a completely different pitcher who threw 67 of his 92 pitches for strikes over seven innings and struck out nine and gave up only three hits. I don't even know anymore. I feel like Locke could go either way in any individual start but he made the Phillies look awfully foolish tonight. Locke came into the game striking out less than six hitters per nine innings so this isn't usually what he does but it was tonight and it was awesome.
The Pirates had a tough time getting runs off Kendrick but they came through when they needed to. They ended up with 12 hits on the night and four players had multiple hits. Starling Marte continues to be as hot as anyone as he had hits in his first three at bats and finished the night a triple shy of the cycle.
Ike Davis and Travis Snider were the only starting position players to not record a hit while Andrew McCutchen had three hits and Jordy Mercer joined Morel with a pair of hits. After struggling some since being injured that is the third straight game with three hits for McCutchen. He is pretty good at baseball. The Pirates did only go 2-of-13 with runners in scoring position and left eight guys on base but with 12 hits and six runs I can't really complain. I mean I could, but I am not going to.
The Pirates tried to make this interesting in the eighth inning when Jared Hughes loaded the bases with one out and then Tony Watson came in and allowed three of those runs to score to cut the Pirates lead to 6-4 and allowed the tying run to reach first base after Watson hit Ryan Howard. Boy, Watson has really had some tough outings since the break. The Pirates bullpen has largely been terrible this season and it really sucks because Watson was one of the few guys that was getting outs. Not as much anymore.
Mark Melancon is the other guy that can get outs with regularity and luckily tonight he did just that and picked up his 27th save.
At the end of the day it wasn't pretty but the Pirates were good enough to win. The Braves and Brewers lost tonight (well the Brewers are down 6-2 after seventh inning so I am going to chalk that up, because I can) so that gives the Pirates a 1.5 game lead on both of those teams for the second Wild Card. The Pirates will play both of those teams in like 10 days and getting as much separation as possible before that point is going to be crucial. Tonight was a good start to that goal.