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LAD@PIT: Locke dazzles over seven scoreless frames

Of the five pitchers the Pirates broke Spring Training with in late March, Jeff Locke is the only remaining right now.

Because of injuries to A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez and James McDonald, the rotation has seen a major overhaul since the beginning of the season. But Locke, the No. 5 starter when the year began, has been as reliable as they come.

Locke will put his 6-1 record and 2.19 ERA on the line Wednesday against Bronson Arroyo and the Cincinnati Reds. Locke hasn't lost since April 7, his first start of the season.

He had perhaps his best start of the season his last time out, throwing seven shutout innings in a 3-0 win against the Dodgers. He allowed just two hits and a walk, throwing 75 pitches.

"He was on top of his game," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "First-pitch strikes, working ahead ... he looked effortless. Just made pitches the entire seven innings. What he showed was the ability to make adjustments in four days, then take it into the game and compete. That's what made it most gratifying for all of us."

Locke bested the Reds on April 13, picking up his first win of the season by allowing a run, four hits and four walks over five innings.

Arroyo, a former Pirate and the club's third-round pick in the 1995 First-Year Player Draft, is 6-7 with a 3.88 ERA career against the Bucs. This will be his first outing against Pittsburgh this year.

The righty went 7 2/3 innings Friday against Milwaukee. He allowed three runs (two earned), 12 hits and two home runs, one in the eighth inning to tie the game.

"I felt strong. That's as good as I've felt all year as far as deep in the ballgame. I felt like I could have thrown four more innings," Arroyo said after that start. "But sometimes you win those, and sometimes you get burned on them."

Pirates: Mercer's bat earns him more time at short
• Jordy Mercer bounced between Triple-A Indianapolis and Pittsburgh several times earlier in the season, but now he's found a home.

Hurdle said Mercer will get the "lion's share" of the playing time at shortstop over Clint Barmes. Mercer is hitting .284 in 32 games. He's also made only three errors while playing both shortstop and second.

"Mercer's going to get some reps here because of the quality of his play and the way he's swinging the bat," Hurdle said.

Barmes is hitting .198 with just a .496 OPS in 162 at-bats this season, but excels defensively.

"[Barmes] works with [Mercer] every day," Hurdle said. "Clint Barmes is actually helping Jordy get better every day."

Reds: Bats go quiet at home
• The Reds had not been shut out at home all season until Saturday, when the Brewers blanked them, 6-0. The Pirates did it again Tuesday in a 4-0 victory.

Before Saturday, they had not been shut out at Great American Ball Park since Aug. 31, 2011.

Worth noting
• Charlie Morton plunked Shin-Soo Choo with his first pitch of the game Tuesday, then brushed back Joey Votto with a high fastball later that inning, but no more came of it.

Reds closer Aroldis Chapman nearly hit Neil Walker with a 100-mph fastball Monday, and Mike Leake hit Andrew McCutchen earlier in the game. But the feud ended in the first Tuesday, although it remains to be seen what will happen with two games left in the series.

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