Colon outduels Locke as A's beat Pirates, 2-1
By Rob Biertempfel
Published: Monday, July 8, 2013, 10:03 p.m.
Pirates left-hander Jeff Locke pitched like an All-Star on Monday against the Oakland Athletics. He worked seven innings and gave up two runs and three hits.
Unfortunately for Locke and the Pirates, A's right-hander Bartolo Colon is an All-Star, too.
Colon scattered seven hits and kept the Pirates' offense in check, as the A's held on for a 2-1 victory.
The loss snapped Locke's eight-game winning streak, the best stretch by a Pirates lefty since Emil Yde won nine in a row in 1925. It also ended Locke's run of 16 straight starts without a loss, a franchise record.
“Losing anytime makes you appreciate (winning),” Locke said. “One thing you can't control in this game is the wins and losses.”
On Saturday, Locke, 25, became a first-time All-Star when he was selected by National League manager Bruce Bochy. Colon, 40, is on the American League roster for the third time in his 16-year career.
Locke (8-2) held the A's hitless until the fourth, when Jed Lowrie doubled off the base of the Clemente Wall with one out.
Lowrie went to third base on a wild pitch. The throw from catcher Russell Martin was there in plenty of time, but Pedro Alvarez missed with a swipe tag. Lowrie scored on Josh Donaldson's sacrifice fly to center field.
“If that happens 100 times, 99 times I'll tag him,” Alvarez said. “It's just one of those plays.”
The crowd of 23,743, not realizing Alvarez whiffed on the tag, booed third base umpire Scott Barry as Lowrie ran to the plate.
Locke labored in the seventh, when he gave up two hits and two walks that allowed the A's to stretch their lead to 2-0.
Lowrie and Donaldson began the inning with back-to-back singles. Consecutive two-out walks to Chris Young and Derek Norris forced in a run.
The Pirates broke through against Colon (12-3) in the seventh. Clint Barmes doubled off the left field wall, and Travis Snider lined a pinch-hit single. With two outs, Jose Tabata hit a dribbler that third baseman Donaldson couldn't snag. Barmes scored.
Colon went seven innings, allowed one run and struck out five. His 105th pitch of the night (he finished with 108) was a 95 mph fastball that Andrew McCutchen couldn't catch up to in the zone — not bad for an old-timer like Colon.
“He was just throwing his fastball all night,” McCutchen said. “He threw me one slider, I think. Other than that, all fastballs.”
That has always been Colon's winning formula.
“He really beats up the strike zone,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “He throws as many strikes as any pitcher we've seen all year or will see all year, and he pitches to his strengths. He can pitch tight, stay away and elevate when he wants to. But most of it's done in the strike zone.”
Colon has allowed 15 walks in 1201⁄3 innings this season. Over his past 10 starts, he has a 1.48 ERA. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Colon is the first pitcher in major league history to win at least each of his first six starts in his 40s.
“He's a great dude,” said Martin, who was Colon's teammate with the New York Yankees in 2011. “He plays the game like a kid. I think he just doesn't take the game too seriously anymore. He just goes out and has fun, always has a smile on his face, no matter what the result is.”
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.
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