Pirates slam Marlins as Locke throws 3-hit shutout
By Joe Frisaro and Adam Berry
MIAMI -- Returning to the site of his first big league home run, Gregory Polanco on Monday connected on his first grand slam, a no-doubt blast that powered left-hander Jeff Locke and the Pirates to a 10-0 win over Miami at Marlins Park.
Backed by plenty of support, Locke made his own imprint by tossing Pittsburgh's first complete game and shutout since Vance Worley on July 28, 2014, at San Francisco. Locke scattered three hits and struck out one on his 105-pitch night.
"Unlike anything I've ever been a part of," Locke said. "Actually, I've never been a part of it, so it was pretty special. A hundred and one [career] starts into this thing, finally get to throw a complete game. Very special."
Locke was one batter away from becoming the first Pirates starter to face the minimum in a shutout since John Candelaria on July 25, 1982. The attempt ended when pinch-hitter Jeff Mathis delivered a two-out single in the ninth.
The Pirates broke it open in the sixth when Miami manager Don Mattingly replaced Justin Nicolino after a leadoff single, and reliever Jose Urena allowed four runs, including the grand slam to Polanco.
"I really did think it was the best [Nicolino] has thrown the ball in a while," Mattingly said. "Again, I just made the decision there to go right-handed back through the top of their order. It was that third time through that we were trying to get a little magic shot down there and steal one."
In defeat, Marcell Ozuna's 11-game hitting streak was snapped, as was his string of reaching safely in 36 straight games.
Sean Rodriguez provided some extra cushion with a two-run homer in the ninth off Edwin Jackson. David Freese had four hits, with two doubles, two RBIs and two runs scored.
"The offense was really good, obviously. That enables the skipper to want to send me back out, too," Locke said. "They made plays behind me. They had good at-bats. They put runs up on the board. It was one of those nights where it all fell together."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Hot Coffee: Polanco's breakout year continued as he crossed another career first off the list, lining a grand slam to right-center field in the sixth inning. Polanco's bases-clearing blast gave the Bucs a 7-0 lead and served as further evidence of his emergence into a star hitter. "El Coffee" has hit safely in six of his seven games in Miami, going 16-for-32 with two homers, two doubles, nine RBIs and eight runs scored.
"When I come here," Polanco said, "I see the ball really well." More >
Sixth-inning struggles: For the Marlins, the game was still within striking distance when Nicolino took the mound in the top of the sixth inning. The lefty had given up two runs at the time, but after he allowed a leadoff single to Andrew McCutchen, Mattingly made a change. Urena entered and Pirates broke things open, tacking on a third run before Polanco's grand slam capped a five-run frame. Urena was charged with four runs on three hits, including an intentional walk in his lone inning. He even got a stellar defensive play from Martin Prado on Jung Ho Kang's hot smash.
"I felt like I had good command of my fastball, in and out," Nicolino said. "I think tonight was probably the best, two-seamers and four-seamers, in and out, were the best it's been all year. Just decided to take me out. That's a situation, Donnie had a plan and that's what he went with. I'd like to stay out there, get that out. But he had a plan. That's what he went with."
Ozuna's streak stalled: The longest streak of reaching safely in the Majors this season is now over. Ozuna went hitless in three at-bats, and had his stretch of reaching in 36 consecutive games end. The Miami center fielder had a little bit of tough luck, as he lifted a long fly ball that was caught at the wall for an out in the second inning. In the fifth inning, Ozuna lined sharply to center, and in his final at-bat, he grounded to second. The Marlins' record is 46 straight games, set by Luis Castillo from April 25-June 21, 2002.
"Locke maintained the ball in the zone, and he deserves a lot of credit," Ozuna said. "He didn't make mistakes and he dominated us tonight." More >
Climbing the ladder: Locke's gem wouldn't have been possible without the Pirates' sharp defense behind him, particularly that of Rodriguez. Filling in for shortstop Jordy Mercer, Rodriguez made a handful of highlight-reel plays, none more impressive than the leaping grab of Christian Yelich's liner to end the fourth inning. Rodriguez was involved in all three outs in the fourth.
We just have to put it back together and get ourselves going. We're in a little stretch here where we're playing more .500 baseball than anything else, but that's just a matter of time before we get ourselves rolling again. In our minds, you have to think we have to start that tomorrow." -- Mattingly, on the Marlins treading water
"If things go really well for like the next hour and a half, you can wind up with a pretty good game!" -- Locke, realizing after four innings he had a chance to throw a complete game
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Overshadowed by Locke's efficient outing and Polanco's big blast, Freese went 4-for-5 -- tying a career high with his first four-hit game since July 31, 2014.
McCutchen scored the 673rd run of his career, passing Barry Bonds for 20th on the Pirates' all-time list.
The Marlins caught one of the rare breaks of the game in the fourth inning. Starling Marte singled and attempted to steal second. Catcher J.T. Realmuto's throw was handled by second baseman Derek Dietrich, and the call was that Marte was safe. Miami challenged, and the call was overturned after a review of one minute and 30 seconds.
WHAT'S NEXT Pirates:Gerrit Cole and Jose Fernandez will meet at 7:10 p.m. ET on Tuesday in a duel of young aces at Marlins Park. Cole is 3-0 with a 1.04 ERA over his last three starts, the fifth-lowest ERA in the Majors since May 8. The fourth-lowest ERA during that stretch belongs to Fernandez. Cole doubled and homered in his last start, becoming the first Pittsburgh pitcher with multiple extra-base hits in one game since Bronson Arroyo in 2000.
Marlins: Fernandez (7-2, 2.82 ERA) rides a six-game winning streak heading into Tuesday's 7:10 p.m. ET meeting with the Pirates. The right-hander is 21-1 with a 1.64 ERA in his career at home.