|Pittsburgh (57-39) «||0||1||0||0||0||0||2||0||0||3||7||0|
CINCINNATI -- Jeff Locke broke into a grin before taking any questions.
"Happy to be back," the left-hander said.
No one's happier than the Pittsburgh Pirates, who used their formula from a highly successful first half -- great pitching, just enough scoring -- to salvage the final game of their series with Cincinnati Reds on Sunday. Locke allowed only an infield single through six innings of a 3-2 victory.
Second-place Pittsburgh left town with a three-game cushion over the NL Central-rival Reds, who won the first two games.
Locke (9-2) and the majors' second-stingiest bullpen limited the Reds to three singles, but issued seven walks and let a run score on a wild pitch. Jason Grilli worked the ninth for his 30th save in 31 chances. His only blown save came in Cincinnati on June 19.
Locke had to miss his last scheduled start and couldn't pitch in the All-Star game because of a sore back. There were no problems when he got back on the mound.
"The back was great," Locke said.
Bailey (5-9) struck out a career-high 12 but remained winless since his no-hitter against San Francisco at Great American Ball Park this month. Jones hit his second homer in two games, and the Pirates added a pair of runs in the seventh.
"That was the best I've ever seen Bailey," Jones said. "His velocity was up, his cutter was nasty and he was hitting his spots well."
The Pirates hit six homers during the series, all solo shots. It underscored their main concern as trade talks intensify: Can they score enough runs to make the playoffs?
"I'm just one of the pieces that need to pick it up," said Jones, who has 10 homers after hitting a career-high 27 last year. "I had a slow first half and this is the time to hit and be productive and help your team win."
The Ohio River rivals don't meet again until September, when they play each other six times in the last nine games. Both hope they have a lot at stake when they get back together -- the Reds trying for a second straight NL Central title, the Pirates trying to end their 20-year streak of losing records and reach the postseason for the first time since 1992.
They came away from their weekend series bunched a bit closer in their chase of division-leading St. Louis.
Bailey threw the first of his two no-hitters last Sept. 28 in Pittsburgh, a 1-0 win over a team he has dominated during his career. He threw his second no-hitter on July 2. Since then, he's started three games -- two on the road -- and gone 0-3 with a 5.50 ERA.
Locke's performance was encouraging for the Pirates, who have stayed in contention despite injuries in the rotation. Shin-Soo Choo's infield single in the first inning extended his hitting streak to a career-high 15 games.
Locke walked a pair and threw a wild pitch that let in a run in the fifth inning. He lowered his ERA to 2.11.
"What did he leave with, one hit?" manager Clint Hurdle said. "That's good stuff."
The Reds got another run in the eighth when Joey Votto grounded into a double play with the bases loaded against Mark Melancon, ending the reliever's streak of 15 scoreless innings. It was Cincinnati's best chance to pull off the three-game sweep.
"It hurts when you have opportunities like that," manager Dusty Baker said. "You hope you're going to blow it open."
First baseman Gaby Sanchez, a late defensive replacement, started the double play, with Melancon covering first to take the relay and finish it.
"That's as good a double play as we've made all year in a tight situation," Hurdle said.
|Jeff Locke (9-2) and the majors' second-stingiest bullpen limit the Reds to three singles, but issue seven walks. (USATSI)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Starling Marte, LF||5||0||0||0||0||2||5||.286|
|Travis Snider, RF||4||0||0||0||0||2||3||.228|
|Andrew McCutchen, CF||4||0||0||0||0||1||1||.306|
|Pedro Alvarez, 3B||4||0||0||0||0||2||0||.240|
|Garrett Jones, 1B||3||1||1||1||0||2||0||.259|
|Michael McKenry, C||4||1||2||0||0||2||1||.190|
|Jordy Mercer, 2B||3||1||1||1||0||2||1||.262|
|Clint Barmes, SS||2||0||1||0||1||1||1||.222|
|Jeff Locke, P||2||0||1||0||0||1||1||.094|
|a-Jose Tabata, PH||1||0||1||1||0||0||0||.282|
|b-Brandon Inge, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.181|
|a-singled for Locke in the 7th|
|b-struck out for Melancon in the 9th|
|2B - Michael McKenry (5, Bailey)|
|HR - Garrett Jones (10, Bailey)|
|SH - Clint Barmes (6)|
|RBI - Garrett Jones (37), Jordy Mercer (14), Jose Tabata (12)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|DP - G. Sanchez-Barmes-Melancon|
|Jeff Locke (W,9-2)||6||1||1||1||4||6||0||2.11|
|Bryan Morris (H,1)||0.2||0||0||0||0||0||0||2.61|
|Justin Wilson (H,8)||0.1||0||0||0||0||1||0||1.86|
|Mark Melancon (H,26)||1||1||1||1||2||0||0||0.97|
|Jason Grilli (S,30)||1||1||0||0||0||1||0||1.94|
|WP - Jeff Locke (5)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Jeff Locke 87-48, Tony Watson 7-3, Bryan Morris 3-2, Justin Wilson 4-3, Mark Melancon 16-8, Jason Grilli 17-13|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jeff Locke 6-5, Bryan Morris 1-1, Mark Melancon 2-0|
|Batters Faced - Jeff Locke 22, Tony Watson 1, Bryan Morris 2, Justin Wilson 1, Mark Melancon 5, Jason Grilli 4|
|Shin-Soo Choo, CF||3||0||2||0||1||0||1||.292|
|Chris Heisey, LF||3||0||0||0||1||2||1||.223|
|Joey Votto, 1B||3||0||0||0||1||0||0||.317|
|Brandon Phillips, 2B||4||0||0||0||0||2||2||.266|
|Jay Bruce, RF||3||0||0||0||1||2||0||.269|
|Todd Frazier, 3B||4||0||1||0||0||0||1||.240|
|Zack Cozart, SS||3||1||0||0||1||0||2||.235|
|Corky Miller, C||1||0||0||0||1||0||0||.100|
|b-Neftali Soto, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.000|
|Devin Mesoraco, C||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.240|
|Homer Bailey, P||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.176|
|c-Derrick Robinson, PH||0||1||0||0||1||0||0||.254|
|a-announced for Miller in the 7th|
|b-struck out for Paul in the 7th|
|c-walked for Hoover in the 8th|
|SH - Homer Bailey (6)|
|CS - Shin-Soo Choo (8, 2nd base by Locke/McKenry)|
|Team LOB - 6|
|PB - Corky Miller (1)|
|Homer Bailey (L,5-9)||6.1||7||3||3||1||12||1||3.84|
|WP - Homer Bailey (4)|
|HBP - Mercer (by Curtis Partch)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Homer Bailey 121-83, J.J. Hoover 26-16, Curtis Partch 14-8|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Homer Bailey 5-2, Curtis Partch 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Homer Bailey 27, J.J. Hoover 6, Curtis Partch 4|
|Attendance - 40824|
|Game Time - 3:18|
|Temperature - 83|
|Umpires - Home - James Hoye, First Base - Bob Davidson, Second Base - Jim Reynolds, Third Base - John Hirschbeck|