Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Locke Making Bid for Fifth Spot

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Locke Making Bid for Fifth Spot

Article excerpt

BRADENTON

PIRATES: He is one of three vying for a spot in the starting rotation

Jeff Locke is going to have to do better than give up eight hits in less than four innings if he wants to win the fifth spot in the Pirates' rotation.

The 25-year-old left-hander is one of three contenders for the last spot to open the season in the rotation, a job that figures, on paper, to be short-term duty for either right-hander Kyle McPherson, left-hander Jonathan Sanchez or Locke.

Once Francisco Liriano is ready to return from his offseason arm injury, the veteran right-hander will take a spot in the rotation from somebody.

Locke was given his fourth opportunity to start a Grapefruit League game Monday and went 31/3 innings in the Pirates' 4-3 come- from-behind victory over the Orioles that snapped a four-game home losing streak before 5,431 fans at McKechnie Field.

Alex Presley scored the winning run on a fielder's choice by Carlos Paulino off Adam Russell in the ninth inning.

Lew Ford, Conor Jackson, Danny Valencia and L.J. Hoes each had two hits for the Orioles.

Josh Harrison, who was 1-for-17 this spring, went 2-for-2 drove in the tying run and had two RBI. Brad Hawpe homered for the Pirates.

Meanwhile, the Orioles' Jake Arrieta is in the same spot as Locke, trying to win a job as the No. 5 starter.

Arrieta struck out five over four scoreless innings against the Pirates, allowing two hits.

Arrieta was Baltimore's Opening Day starter in 2012.

Locke gave up a solo home run to Ford, struck out three and walked one.

"We are getting closer and closer to the end every day, and you'd like to see better results from yourself," Locke said. "Everything today felt good, but the pitches up hurt me. When the ball was down it had good action on it today, when it was up it flattened out."

"He pitched out of the stretch a lot today and he pitched behind in the count a lot today," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. …

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