PITTSBURGH (AP) - Jeff Locke has hit a rough patch in what has otherwise been a breakthrough season.
The Pittsburgh Pirates left-hander gave up eight runs and 10 hits in 2 2-3 innings Saturday in a 15-5 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The runs and hits allowed were season high, while the innings pitched were a season low.
``Today was a reality check for me, absolutely,' Locke said. ``Any start like that is a reality check. You set your standards high, you set your goals high and you're disappointed when you don't reach them. I wasn't sitting there pouting about it, though, when I came out of the game. It's just the nature of the game to occasionally have a day like this.'
Locke (9-4) was selected to the All-Star Game in what is his first full major league season. Until Saturday, he had allowed two earned runs or less in 16 of his 23 starts and four hits or fewer 14 times. Locke had also given up three runs or less in 16 of his previous 17 starts.
``He didn't have good stuff and he didn't have good command,' Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. ``It's a tough combination.'
Locke, winless in his last four starts, missed his final turn in the rotation before the All-Star break because of stiffness in his lower back and there has been some speculation that he may still be feeling the effects of the injury. He downplayed that idea.
``The back is fine. It just seemed like one of those games were everything was happening,' Locke said. ``The game can speed up on you in a hurry and that's what happened to me. Hitting is contagious and it seemed they kept getting one hit after another.'
The Pirates' lead over St. Louis in the NL Central fell to two games as the Cardinals blanked the Chicago Cubs 4-0.
Arizona wound up with 20 hits as Martin Prado went 4 for 5 with a three-run home run and Paul Goldschmidt added a three-run shot.
Prado's 11th homer of the season capped a six-run third inning and put the Diamondbacks ahead 8-0. Prado has driven in 13 runs in his past 10 games.
Prado said the Diamondbacks' key to beating Locke was patience.
``He kept getting behind in the count and he had to make pitches with his fastball,' Prado said. ``He has a good changeup and curveball, but he couldn't use them as much.'
Goldschmidt's 30th homer came in the ninth and tied him with Pittsburgh's Pedro Alvarez for the National League lead. Alvarez hit his 30th earlier in the game.
Alvarez became just the fifth player in Pirates' history to have consecutive 30-home run seasons, joining Ralph Kiner (1947-52), Willie Stargell (1970-73), Brian Giles (1999-2002) and Jason Bay (2005-06).
Goldschmidt and Didi Gregorius each had three hits.
Gregorius, a rookie shortstop, had gone 2 for 29 in his previous eight games.
Trevor Cahill (4-10) earned his first win since May 17. He went five innings and allowed four runs and seven hits. He was activated from the disabled list before the game. He had been out since July 1 with a bruised right hip.
A.J. Pollock, Aaron Hill, Wil Nieves and Gerardo Parra had two hits each and Nieves had three RBIs, including a two-run double in the first inning to give Arizona an early lead.
After going 0-6 with a 7.91 ERA in his previous eight starts, Cahill struck out four and walked one.
Alvarez hit a three-run home run and Starling Marte added a solo shot for NL Central-leading Pittsburgh in the third inning, enabling the Pirates to cut the lead to 8-4.
Andrew McCutchen had three hits and Neil Walker and Jose Tabata had two each. McCutchen has had multiple hits in 10 of his past 14 games.
Prado's home run with two outs in the third put Arizona ahead by eight and Locke was removed after Goldschmidt followed with a single. Goldschmidt's hit was the seventh in a row by the Diamondbacks in the inning, tying a club record.
Gregorius doubled in the first run of the third and Cahill, who was hitting .063, followed with a two-run single.
The Pirates, who have dropped six of eight, cut the deficit to 8-5 in the sixth when Russell Martin doubled and scored on Tabata's single.
However, Joe Thatcher came on and struck out Walker with the bases loaded to end the threat. Thatcher has inherited four bases-loaded situations this season and has not allowed a run.
``Thatcher's strikeout was really big,' Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. ``Even though the game was 15-5, it was a close game. They had a lot of pressure on us. People are going to look at score and say it was a blowout, but it was far from that. That's a good team over there and they kept coming at us.'
Arizona added four runs in the eighth inning on pinch-hitter Jason Kubel's two-run single, Nieves' sacrifice fly and Gregorius' RBI single. Goldschmidt's homer in the ninth gave the Diamondbacks a season high in runs.
NOTES: The series concludes Sunday with Arizona LHP Wade Miley (9-8, 3.63) facing Pittsburgh RHP Charlie Morton (4-3, 3.79). ... The Pirates are hoping RHP Jason Grilli, who has been on the disabled list since July 23 with a strained right forearm, can begin throwing off a mound by next weekend. Grilli has converted 30 of 31 save opportunities. . The Diamondbacks optioned RHP Chaz Roe to Triple-A Reno to open a roster spot for Cahill.
The Associated Press News Service
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