Locked in: Pirates lefty on solid 4-start run

Locked in: Pirates lefty on solid 4-start run

PITTSBURGH -- After back-to-back quality starts and four wins in a row, Pirates lefty Jeff Locke can joke about his mistakes. When you follow up your first career complete game, a shutout in Miami, by holding the Angels to three runs in seven innings, it's normal to be in a good mood.

Locke gave up a solo home run to Angels outfielder Shane Robinson in the sixth during the Pirates' 8-7 win on Saturday, one of two solo shots he allowed in the game. Though admitting the solo homers upset him a bit -- Robinson's home run was just the sixth of his career -- Locke stayed in good spirits.

"I saw it right afterward," Locke said. "[Robinson's] got this little red box on the inner part of the plate that's his hot zone. And I found it today. Right in there, just where he likes it."

He allowed a single to pitcher Jhoulys Chacin, which Locke said was uncalled for. He didn't even think his 10-0 shutout of the Marlins on May 30, a start in which he allowed three hits and struck out one, was that dominant. The team offering run support and playing sound defense has contributed to his rhythm, according to Locke.

"So your offense and your defense depicts how I get to do my job, as well," Locke said. "When those guys are firing on all cylinders at the plate and making good plays behind me, that enables me to go out there and keep pitching."

No matter his disposition, Locke's last two outings have impressed many, including Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. Hurdle complimented Locke for his conviction on the mound and how he has located his pitches. Locke hasn't walked a batter since May 25. 

"To back up the complete-game outing with this outing [Saturday], that's special," Hurdle said.

Though he has developed some consistency, Locke knows he has to turn the page pretty quickly, as he's slated to face the Rockies on Thursday. He's found success of late, but Locke still thinks he has room to improve.

"It's been good. Obviously I'm throwing more strikes and attacking the plate a lot more," Locke said. "A lot more efficiently, I should say. We're still falling behind guys. It's not like we're perfect. We're not doing things a whole lot different."

Sarah K. Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Pittsburgh. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.