8/17/2014 5:38 P.M. ET
Locke taking his tough luck with leads in stride
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
WASHINGTON -- Jeff Locke won rotation tenure Saturday night, with 5 2/3 innings of shutout pitching taking him out of consideration for giving up his spot for Gerrit Cole's return.
What Locke did not win, however, was the game. The 3-0 lead over the Nationals he had bequeathed to the Pirates' bullpen became a 4-3 walk-off loss.
It was the latest tough pill fed to the lefty, who does have a winning record (4-3) that would be far better if his pitching days did not match up with some of the Buccos bullpen's poorer days.
Saturday's game represented the 10th time Locke departed with a lead. He has won four of those.
"I'm OK with that," said Locke, who was surprised to learn how often his leads have not held up. "Those [relievers] have done great all year and when they stumble, it just happens to be me this year.
"But they've won me a ton of games. [Blown leads are] a collective effect, because we're all trying to get to the same place. It'll get scary when we get rolling, the way we should."
First number, last word
49-7: Pirates record in games they have led after seven innings, following Saturday's 4-3 loss to Washington; in 2013, the team's record in such games was 74-4.
"You have no idea how many times players play through pain. You never hear about it. I don't share it with you. It's just the way it is. And if nothing more complicated happens, it never gets out." -- Manager Clint Hurdle, mitigating the surprise of Charlie Morton landing on the DL two months after first experiencing right-hip discomfort.
• Stolmy Pimentel returned to the mound for a side session on Sunday, two days after landing on the DL with a sprained right ankle.
• Brent Morel was recalled to fill Charlie Morton's roster spot in the short term because he provides insurance for two tenuous infielders: second baseman Neil Walker and third baseman Pedro Alvarez.
"We're optimistic Walker is fully back [from lower-back tightness] but don't know that. And we're still finding ways to [substitute on] defense for Pedro," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We need to have an extra infielder if [we have to make] both of those [moves] the same day."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.