It had been a long time since Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Jeff Locke had a dominant effort, but his timing in presenting one was spot-on.
To look at Locke’s 3.23 ERA as he entered Thursday’s start against the Cubs would be an indication that he’s been a quality pitcher this season. That is certainly true, but in recent days, Locke has been hit with the “regression stick”, seeing his ERA rise from 2.43 to 3.23 in just 5 starts. However, he turned that trend around on Thursday, navigating 7 innings of 1-run ball while allowing only 3 hits and 1 walks against the Cubs.
Locke’s performance helped the Pirates achieve a 3-1 victory over the Cubs, and while that is a semi-small occurrence, the timing of the win was huge. Pittsburgh climbs to within a half-game of the division-leading Cardinals (as of this writing) after the win, and they will certainly need Locke to continue being this pitcher instead of the one from previous weeks.
Offensively, it was a balanced effort for Pittsburgh, as no member of the lineup had more than 2 hits, and Pittsburgh failed to hit a home run against the Cubs pitching staff led by Chris Rusin. It was more than enough for Locke, however, and with the win, the Pirates are looking more and more comfortable as a playoff-bound team.