Braves at Phillies
When: 7:05 tonight
On TV: Fox Sports South
PITTSBURGH — Gregory Polanco homered and tripled, John Jaso collected three hits and the Pittsburgh Pirates rolled by the Atlanta Braves 8-2 on Thursday night. Polanco hit a two-run shot to left-center in the second off Mike Foltynewicz (1-2) and finished 2 for 4. The left fielder is hitting .461 (12 for 26) in his last seven games.
Staked to an early lead, Jeff Locke didn’t let it go to waste. Locke (2-3) allowed two runs and seven hits in seven innings to win for just the second time in eight starts this season.
Following eight shutout innings in a win at Kansas City last Saturday,
The 23-year-old lasted just three innings, giving up five runs and seven hits as the Braves fell to 10-30, the worst record in the majors.
Jeff Francouer went 3 for 4 with his fifth home run of the season for Atlanta.
The Pirates feasted on Atlanta’s young pitching staff, scoring 29 runs while taking three of four in the series. As they did in wins on Monday and Tuesday, Pittsburgh attacked early.
Jaso led off with a single and later scored when Starling Marte — returning from paternity leave following the birth of his daughter on Sunday — hit a blooper to right field that fell in front of Nick Markakis to give the Pirates a 2-0 lead. Jaso’s two-out triple in the second started another quick rally.
Andrew McCutchen followed with an RBI single and the left-handed Polanco sent a pitch from Foltynewicz into the bleachers in left-center, the deepest part of PNC Park.
Unlike teammates Jon Niese and Juan Nicasio, who labored while pitching with a significant cushion earlier in the series, Locke was steady. The left-hander has endured a rocky start at the back end of the rotation and was touched for six runs in a loss at the Chicago Cubs last Saturday.
Facing an offense that came in ranked near the bottom of the majors in most statistical categories, Locke found better luck. Though at least one Atlanta batter reached base in each of Locke’s seven innings, he avoided major trouble to give Pittsburgh’s scuffling bullpen a break.
Atlanta was forced to scratch Erick Aybar a few hours before the game after the shortstop arrived at PNC Park expressing discomfort in his chest after swallowing a chicken bone. He was taken to a local hospital and replaced by Daniel Castro, who went 0 for 4 as his averaged dropped to .198.
SETBACK FOR LUEBKE
Reliever Cory Luebke’s long comeback from two reconstructive elbow surgeries hit a speed bump when the Pirates sent him to Triple-A Indianapolis and called up Wilfredo Boscan. The 31-year-old Luebke made the team as a non-roster invitee in spring training but struggled in four appearances, including giving up three runs while getting just one out on Monday.
Manager Clint Hurdle said he hopes Luebke, who missed three full seasons while his left elbow recovered, will get regular work in the minors in hopes of regaining his form.
Boscan posted a 3.48 ERA in seven starts in Indianapolis this season and pitched two scoreless innings in relief of Locke in his major league debut.
Braves: The 10-game road trip continues Friday in Philadelphia. Matt Wisler (1-3, 3.14) will try to build on an impressive May. The 23-year-old is 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA this month and has worked into the eighth inning in each of his last three starts.
Pirates: Open a three-game weekend series with the Colorado Rockies on Friday. Gerrit Cole (4-3, 3.05), coming off eight shutout innings in a win over the Cubs last Sunday, will start. Pittsburgh swept three games from the Rockies in Colorado last month.