Locke, Pirates shoot for split with Cubs

(SportsNetwork.com) - Jeff Locke looks to remain unbeaten Thursday afternoon and pitch the Pittsburgh Pirates to a split of their four-game series with the Chicago Cubs.

Locke takes aim at a 3-0 start after notching a pair of recent wins over Milwaukee. The left-hander yielded three runs and walked only one batter over 14 innings in the two triumphs.

Locke logged eight innings of one-run ball at home versus Milwaukee on Saturday, striking out six.

"Fastball command was good. He used the glove side. He mixed in the curveball extremely well. Each pitch fed off the other pitch. Great rhythm and tempo throughout the game," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Locke.

Locke is 1-1 with a 3.81 earned run average in five career meetings with the Cubs.

Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks aims to pick up his first win of the season in his third start, and first of his career against the Pirates.

Hendricks has not gotten a decision in two previous outings this season. He yielded five runs over 4 1/3 innings at Colorado on April 12, then settled down after giving up a first-inning homer on Saturday versus San Diego. The two-run shot was the only runs he allowed over six innings as the 25-year-old scattered three hits and fanned eight without a walk.

After losing the first two games of this series, the Pirates recorded a 4-3 triumph last night. Gregory Polanco hit a solo homer and reliever Tony Watson came up big in relief with a six-out save.

Watson came into a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the eighth inning and allowed one inherited runner to score before shutting the Cubs down the rest of the way.

"It wasn't the plan to use Tony that long but it was a gritty performance on his part," Hurdle said.

The Pirates, who have won four of six, saw Starling Marte exit in the game in the fifth inning, two frames after getting hit on the right hand by a pitch. X-rays were negative and his status for this game is unknown.

Jason Hammel gave up four runs -- three earned -- on six hits with five strikeouts over five frames for the Cubs, who were denied their second three- game win streak of the season.

"We just couldn't get a hit when we needed to," Chicago manager Joe Maddon said.

After going 0-for-5 in his major league debut on Tuesday, Cubs second baseman Addison Russell had a hit in four at-bats last night.

Chicago outfielder Dexter Fowler exited prior to the third inning last night due to tightness in his right groin that began bothering him after he singled in the first inning. The move was said to be precautionary.

The Pirates went 14-5 versus the Cubs last season, winning seven of 10 at home.