PITTSBURGH (AP) - Falling behind the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first inning of the first two games of the weekend series led to losses for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Scoring in the opening frame didn’t help the sliding Phillies, either.
Pirates starter Jeff Locke got the best of his mentor A.J. Burnett on Sunday as Pittsburgh topped the Phillies 6-2 on Sunday. That finished the Pirates’ first series sweep of the season and completed the eighth sweep against Philadelphia.
The Phillies struck first in the finale of the three-game series when Marlon Byrd drove Jimmy Rollins home from second base after he reached on a throwing error by Pedro Alvarez.
But Pittsburgh answered with two runs in the bottom of the first, and Philadelphia never led again.
“It was a tough first inning,” Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. “Getting two outs with no one on, then giving up three hits in a row.”
Pittsburgh’s pitching staff held the Phillies to six runs and 12 hits in the series, in which Philadelphia batted .135.
“I feel like we have a better offensive team than this but it hasn’t played out over the course of the season,” second baseman Chase Utley said. “We have some and too many not-so-good games.”
Philadelphia is last in the NL East, 12 games behind first-place Atlanta.
Locke gave up just three hits and a walk in eight innings as he outdueled Burnett, his former neighbor in the Pittsburgh clubhouse.
“It didn’t even feel like we were playing a Major League Baseball game,” Locke said. “We spoke really briefly before we got in the bullpen, just told each other to have fun today, go get ‘em. Pound down.”
Pittsburgh had failed to finish a sweep in eight previous tries this season.
“I didn’t know we didn’t have a sweep,” Locke said. “It feels good, especially a team like those guys over there. Especially when (Marlon) Byrd and A.J. come back again.”
The Pirates (47-41) moved a season-high six games over .500, while the Phillies (37-51) fell a season-high 14 games below .500.
Locke (2-1) gave up two runs - one earned - and struck out four. He has made six straight quality starts since being recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis on June 8.