Pirates slam Marlins as Locke throws 3-hit shutout

Pirates slam Marlins as Locke throws 3-hit shutout

MIAMI -- Returning to the site of his first big league home run, Gregory Polanco on Monday connected on his first grand slam, a no-doubt blast that powered left-hander Jeff Locke and the Pirates to a 10-0 win over Miami at Marlins Park.

Backed by plenty of support, Locke made his own imprint by tossing Pittsburgh's first complete game and shutout since Vance Worley on July 28, 2014, at San Francisco. Locke scattered three hits and struck out one on his 105-pitch night.

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Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hot-hitting Polanco belts first grand slam

Hot-hitting Polanco belts first grand slam

MIAMI -- Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco continued his breakout campaign -- and added to his video-game numbers at Marlins Park -- as he crossed another career first off his list in Monday night's 10-0 win.

Polanco crushed his first grand slam to right-center field against Miami reliever Jose Urena in the sixth inning. The budding star's bases-clearing blast gave the Bucs a 7-0 lead.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

First shutout culmination of Locke's progression

First shutout culmination of Locke's progression

MIAMI -- Sitting in the visiting manager's office at Marlins Park on Monday afternoon, Clint Hurdle explained an exercise he performs with new players. The Pirates' manager will ask them to stretch their arms above their head, reaching as far as they can. When they're done, he'll ask them to reach another three inches. Without fail, they'll extend their fingers another three inches into the air.

How does this apply to Pirates starter Jeff Locke? What does it have to do with his first career shutout Monday night in a 10-0 win over the Marlins, the Pirates' first complete game in nearly two years?

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

30 years after debut, Bonds reflects on Bucs tenure

30 years after debut, Bonds reflects on Bucs tenure

MIAMI -- Barry Bonds didn't remember the anniversary, but he recalled the details.

On May 30, 1986, exactly 30 years ago, Bonds pulled on a Pirates jersey and made his Major League debut at Three Rivers Stadium. But first, he had to wait.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cole, Pirates try to cool off Fernandez in Miami

Cole, Pirates try to cool off Fernandez in Miami

Jose Fernandez and Gerrit Cole are two of the hottest pitchers in the National League, and they will square off Tuesday night in the second game of a four-game series at Marlins Park.

The two aces were both first-round picks by their respective teams in the 2011 Draft. Cole (5-3, 2.53 ERA) went first overall, while Fernandez (7-2, 2.82) was selected 14th.

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Patrick Pinak is a reporter for MLB.com based in Miami. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kuhl aims to continue stellar season vs. Berrios, Red Wings

Kuhl aims to continue stellar season vs. Berrios, Red Wings

Here's a look at top prospects to watch in Tuesday's Minor League action:

Hitter to watch: Alex Dickerson (Padres No. 22)

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Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Meadows among top prospect performers Monday

Pirates' No. 2 prospect hits first homer of year in 3-for-3 night, Cubs' No. 2 sets offensive career highs

Meadows among top prospect performers Monday

Austin Meadows entered the home run column and enjoyed his best offensive performance of the season Monday as he went 3-for-3 with a three RBIs, two stolen bases and a walk in Double-A Altoona's win against Bowie. The Pirates' No. 2 prospect extended his hitting streak to eight games with the three-hit performance, which raised his batting average from .255 to .277.

Big things were expected from Meadows, MLBPipeline.com's No. 16 overall prospect this year in his first full season at Altoona after he finished 2015 by going 9-for-25 over six games with the Curve at age 20. Instead, the now-21-year-old began the season on the disabled list after suffering an orbital fracture while playing catch with a teammate on March 9 during Spring Training.

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Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Freese makes most of return to Texas

Former World Series hero adds to strong career numbers vs. Rangers

Freese makes most of return to Texas

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Pittsburgh infielder David Freese isn't happy leaving Globe Life Park Sunday, but Rangers fans probably are.

Freese, the hero of Game 6 for the St. Louis Cardinals against Texas in the 2011 World Series, has been on the receiving end of boos since the Pirates came to town on Friday. Freese understands where the fans are coming from.

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Anthony Andro is a contributor for MLB.com who covered the Pirates on Sunday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bucs lose early lead in finale at Texas

Bucs lose early lead in finale at Texas

ARLINGTON -- Mitch Moreland's three-run home run to the upper deck in right field in the fourth inning helped give the Rangers a 6-2 win over the Pirates Sunday afternoon at Globe Life Park.

The Rangers have now won eight consecutive series at home, matching a streak they last had over the 2011-12 seasons.

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Ryan Posner is a reporter for MLB.com based in Texas.

Anthony Andro is a contributor for MLB.com who covered the Pirates on Sunday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Jonathan Mayo

Bell on MLB Pipeline's Prospect Team of the Week

Bell on MLB Pipeline's Prospect Team of the Week

MLBPipeline.com's Prospect Team of the Week honors the best performances from the previous seven days. Any player currently on an organization Top 30 Prospects list on our Prospect Watch is eligible, including big leaguers.

Making the transition to full-season ball can often be a tough one. It's true that the dog days of summer have yet to set in, but a number of prospects are showing that they can more than handle it.

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Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Liriano pays price for location misses

Southpaw allows multiple HRs to lefties in same game for 1st time

Liriano pays price for location misses

ARLINGTON -- Two poorly-located fastballs changed the complexion of Francisco Liriano's outing in a big way Sunday against Texas.

After cruising through the first three innings with a 2-0 lead, Liriano lost command and the lead in the fourth, as the Rangers scored four times on their way to a 6-2 win over the Pirates.

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Anthony Andro is a contributor for MLB.com who covered the Pirates on Sunday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Taillon, Bell among top prospect performers Sunday

Nationals' No. 5 prospect strikes out a career-high 12, Rockies' No. 2 goes 4-for-4 with a pair of doubles

Taillon, Bell among top prospect performers Sunday

Reynaldo Lopez's ability to miss bats was on display Sunday as the right-hander struck out a career-high 12 hitters over five innings in Double-A Harrisburg's 2-1 win against Akron. He allowed one earned run on five hits and did not issue a walk for the first time in nine starts for the Senators.

The Nationals' No. 5 prospect struck out the side in the first and third innings and also recorded a pair of two-strikeout innings. Lopez, 22, has fanned 56 hitters in 47 2/3 innings on the season, while his ERA sits at 4.15 after Sunday's outing. Meanwhile, opposing hitters are batting just .223 against him.

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Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nicasio, Bucs come up short against Rangers

Nicasio, Bucs come up short against Rangers

ARLINGTON -- Yu Darvish struck out seven and allowed one run through five innings in his first start back from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery, and Adrian Beltre passed the 1,500-RBI mark, as the Rangers beat the Pirates, 5-2, Saturday night at Globe Life Park.

"I was very calm. ... I felt fine," Darvish said. "I saw that my fastball was going very well. They weren't on time with my fastball, and it made my other pitches better."

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Ryan Posner is a reporter for MLB.com based in Texas and covered the Rangers on Saturday.

Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com based in Ft. Worth and covered the Pirates on Saturday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hurdle: Nicasio needs to be aggressive early

Hurdle: Nicasio needs to be aggressive early

ARLINGTON -- To Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, righty Juan Nicasio's experience Saturday night against the Rangers was a textbook example of how a starter can win or lose a game in the first few minutes of his night, no matter what he does afterward.

In a 5-2 loss, Nicasio issued a leadoff single to Jurickson Profar, a double to Ian Desmond, an RBI groundout to Prince Fielder and a two-run homer to Adrian Beltre -- the first four batters he faced.

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Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com based in Ft. Worth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pipeline preview: Taillon primed for another strong start

Mariners' prospect has at least one RBI in six straight

Pipeline preview: Taillon primed for another strong start

Here's a look at top prospects to watch in today's Minor League action:

Hitter to watch: Tyler O'Neill (Mariners' No. 4)

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Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

McCutchen wants to cut down on strikeouts

McCutchen wants to cut down on strikeouts

ARLINGTON -- Though he has begun to thaw out after a slow start to the season, posting a batting average that is 64 points higher in May than in April over the same number of at-bats entering Saturday's game, Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen believes his swing is not where it needs to be yet.

He homered and singled in a run in Friday night's 9-1 win over the Rangers, but McCutchen was just as focused Saturday on the three times he struck out in the series opener. McCutchen entered play Saturday having struck out 49 times in 210 plate appearances this year, a strikeout rate of 23.3 percent, almost six points higher than his career rate.

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Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com based in Ft. Worth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates thump Rangers behind 4 HRs, Niese

Pirates thump Rangers behind 4 HRs, Niese

ARLINGTON -- Pirates left-hander Jonathan Niese outpitched Cole Hamels and handed him his first loss since Aug. 7, 2015, in a 9-1 victory over the Rangers on Friday night. The Pirates, with four home runs on the night, have won 10 of their last 12 games to go a season-high nine games over .500.

Hamels was 12-0 with a 2.99 ERA in his last 19 starts before allowing six runs -- five earned -- in 4 2/3 innings. This was Hamels' shortest outing in 22 starts for the Rangers and his first loss at Globe Life Park since being acquired from the Phillies on July 31 last year.

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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Dave Sessions is a contributor for MLB.com covering the Pirates on Friday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kang thrives in first Major League game at DH

Three-run home run to opposite field breaks open rout of Rangers

Kang thrives in first Major League game at DH

ARLINGTON -- Jung Ho Kang got a lot of work done on a "day off" Friday, taking advantage of a rare opportunity to start at designated hitter -- the first time he has ever done so in the Majors -- and pacing the Pirates' offense with a three-run homer that broke open a 9-1 victory over the Rangers in the opener of a three-game series.

"I'm pretty comfortable playing DH, today, especially," Kang said through an interpreter. "I didn't play defense, I really focused on my hitting, I think that helped a lot."

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Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com who covered the Pirates on Friday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Niese leaving early-season struggles behind

Left-hander allows one run over six innings in win over Rangers

Niese leaving early-season struggles behind

ARLINGTON -- After struggling through a rough first month of the season, Pirates lefty Jonathon Niese has undergone a rapid turnaround in May, posting four consecutive quality starts including a one-run, six-inning outing on Friday in a 9-1 win over the Rangers.

Niese's ERA was 5.94 after a messy May 3 start against the Cubs in which he allowed six earned runs on nine hits and five walks, but he has allowed only seven runs over his past 25 2/3 innings, good for a 2.45 ERA and a 2-1 record during his last four starts. Niese said there was no magic cure to his early ailments, just continued refinement.

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Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com who covered the Pirates on Friday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hurdle happy to manage against Banister

Hurdle happy to manage against Banister

ARLINGTON -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said he and Jeff Banister, the former Pirates bench coach who now manages the Rangers, still trade texts and e-mails nearly every day -- but exchanging lineup cards Friday night was a long-awaited, once-in-a-lifetime moment for both skippers.

"It's a great opportunity to bring closure to another part of this," said Hurdle, for whom Banister worked as bench coach for four-plus seasons. "I've spent 41 years in the game and I've met a lot of really good baseball people, developed a lot of relationships, developed some friendships and Jeff Banister would be at the top of that list as personally and professionally."

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Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com who covered the Pirates on Friday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cole's bat helps propel Bucs to sweep of D-backs

Cole's bat helps propel Bucs to sweep of D-backs

PITTSBURGH -- Until Josh Harrison hit a two-run double in the sixth inning, right-hander Gerrit Cole had supplied the Pirates' only offense in their 8-3 win and series sweep vs. the D-backs at PNC Park on Thursday.

Cole hit a three-run home run to left-center field, scoring Francisco Cervelli and Gregory Polanco and pulling the Pirates ahead 3-1 in the second inning. Arizona got two runs back in the sixth inning off reliever A.J. Schugel, recalled from Triple-A on Tuesday to fill the spot of the injured Ryan Vogelsong.

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Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

Sarah K. Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com and covered the Pirates on Thursday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Vogelsong returns to PNC Park to visit Bucs

Veteran righty leaves hospital, takes in game vs. D-backs with wife from suite

Vogelsong returns to PNC Park to visit Bucs

PITTSBURGH -- Four days after he was hospitalized with multiple facial fractures, Ryan Vogelsong returned to PNC Park.

The Pirates were thrilled to see Vogelsong in their clubhouse Thursday morning before their 8-3 win over the D-backs, which he watched in a suite alongside his wife, Nicole.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kuhl among top prospect performers Thursday

Kuhl among top prospect performers Thursday

A pair of Phillies' top prospects had three-hit games in Lehigh Valley's win over Pawtucket. J.P. Crawford, the No. 3 overall prospect (Phillies' No. 1), scored a pair of runs in the game, but more importantly, he found his stroke offensively. Since he was promoted to Triple-A, Crawford got off to a bit of a slow start. The shortstop went 3-for-15 over his first four games, but on Thursday night everything was clicking as Crawford went 3-for-5.

But Crawford wasn't the only Phillies' farmhand to have a good night at the plate. Nick Williams, Philadelphia's No. 3 prospect, was a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate and raised his average to .279.

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William Boor is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cole thwarts role, raps homer and double

Bucs' ace: Pirates' pitchers take hitting seriously to 'make lineup stronger'

Cole thwarts role, raps homer and double

PITTSBURGH -- Gerrit Cole crushed the 0-1 fastball from D-backs left-hander Patrick Corbin, sending the ball crashing deep into Arizona's bullpen some 409 feet away from the plate, according to Statcast™. He rounded first base, clapped his gloved hands and pumped his fist. What was he thinking?

"I was hoping we could get the runners over," Cole said.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bucs TV voice, La Russa have exchange over HBPs

Bucs TV voice, La Russa have exchange over HBPs

PITTSBURGH -- D-backs chief baseball officer Tony La Russa entered the Pirates TV booth during Tuesday night's game to dispute what the broadcasters were saying on the air.

La Russa's emotions apparently were running high after Pirates reliever Arquimedes Caminero hit both Jean Segura and Nick Ahmed in the head with pitches in the seventh and eighth innings, respectively. In between those two hit by pitches, Pirates third baseman David Freese was hit by an Evan Marshall pitch.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rested Feliz firing heat after 'red-lining' in April

Reliever hasn't allowed a run in May as Pirates scale back workload

Rested Feliz firing heat after 'red-lining' in April

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates closely monitor their players' workloads and rest patterns, and manager Clint Hurdle is as careful as anyone about keeping his relievers fresh. So when Hurdle picked up the phone and called for Neftali Feliz 14 times over Pittsburgh's first 24 games, he knew that was too much.

"There was a point where it was past red-lining him," Hurdle said. "That's way over what he needs to be doing, so we tried to back away."

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hurdle encouraged by Hughes' recent outings

Manager has called on right-hander to escape two jams this week

Hurdle encouraged by Hughes' recent outings

PITTSBURGH -- After back-to-back solid outings, reliever Jared Hughes looks like his old self again.

In the Pirates' 5-4 victory vs. the D-backs on Wednesday, Hughes was called to the mound in the seventh inning with one out and a runner on second. He promptly induced groundouts from Phil Gosselin and Nick Ahmed to end the threat.

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Sarah K. Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Pittsburgh. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.