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Jeff Locke put in his five-plus innings for the win, although he wound up being charged with four runs as the Pittsburgh Pirates topped the visiting Detroit Tigers 11-6 at PNC Park on Monday. There was no official save at the end of this game, since the Tigers never got closer than having the potential tying run in the hole in the eighth, after Rajai Davis drilled a two-run double off Casey Sadler.

Locke gave up two first-inning hits and a walk as the Tigers went ahead, 1-0, on an RBI single by Miguel Cabrera.

But the Pirates bailed out Locke quickly as they scored five runs on four hits, two walks and two Tigers errors.

His command eroded by the long bottom of the first, Locke lost home plate in the second. He walked the first two men, who advanced on a Justin Verlander sacrifice bunt that turned around the fearsome Detroit lineup.

"Facing seven-eight-nine, and I go walk-walk. You know walks bother me," Locke said. "I'm out there thinking, 'You should have two outs with Verlander up, and not two guys on base.'"

Davis followed by pulling a 2-0 pitch viciously to left -- speared on the run by Travis Snider, whose throw home erased Alex Avila, who had tagged up from third. From edge of implosion, to end of inning.

"For Snider to make that play at the end of the inning ... oh, real big," Locke said. "I may not have looked very happy [coming off the mound], but I was pretty excited."

Locke (4-3) left the mound with no outs. He gave up four earned runs and eight hits with four walks and one strikeout.

"Just missing spots," he said. "Good hitting team, aggressive. We all knew that coming in. [Was] just missing spots with command. Inconsistent, all the things we continue to work on during the week so on that fifth day everything can be as sharp as possible."

Locke's next scheduled start is slated to come on Saturday (7:05 p.m.) when the Pirates (63-55) travel to Washington DC to play the Nationals (63-53). He'll be opposed by Gio Gonzalez (6-9. 4.00 ERA).

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette contributed to this story.

 

CONWAY — Lasell College senior men's soccer player Mike Skelton was named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-American Third Team for his play during the 2013 season. The forward from Conway led Lasell to one of the most successful seasons in the history of the program, producing the single best statistical performance in the program's 16-year history.

Skelton's recognition makes him the first Lasell athlete ever to be named as an All-American by his sport's governing body.

Head soccer coach Giovanni Pacini was thrilled with the news.

"This is a very proud moment for me and the men's soccer program at Lasell College with Mike Skelton becoming the first ever All American in school history. It could not have happened to a better yon man."

Skelton set a new Lasell college single-season record for goals with 22 and points with 49, while appearing in 23 games and starting all of them. He set new career marks in goals, with 55, points with 128 and games played with 84. He helped the program to a record 17 wins during the 2013 campaign as the team reached the New England ECAC Championship game.

"It's an honor to be considered amongst this group of players" Skelton said, adding "I've been fortunate to play with great teammates and for great coaches throughout my career that have helped me be successful."

"I'm very excited for Michael," Paccini added, "he has done some exceptional things during his time at Lasell and this is a great way for him to cap off his stellar career. First and foremost it's a great honor for him, and it becomes another feather in the cap for our program as well to have a player of his ability recognized by the coaches around the country."

As Skelton looked back on his career, he echoed his coach's sentiments, "I've had a great four years playing here at Lasell, and it's really nice to receive recognition of this magnitude in my last year of soccer."

 

GREENFIELD — It was not going to be easy for Meghan Skidmore to best her 2013 performance at the Greenfield Lightlife Triathlon, but the Intervale resident put on a show to remember during the 31st annual running of the event.
Skidmore not only won the women's overall International Competition, she also beat all the men in the event to claim her second consecutive title Sunday morning at the Green River Swimming & Recreation Area.

Skidmore beat 71 other athletes in the International Competition, which consists of a .63-mile swim, 21.76-mile bike, and 6.51-mile run, finishing the course in a blistering 2 hours, 6 minutes, 36.2 seconds, nearly half a minute ahead of the next closest finisher.

"It was great," Skidmore said. "The course was awesome again, the awards afterwards, all the volunteers. I do a lot of races and this race is well-organized and so fun. It's the reason I drive 3 1/ 2 hours to come down and do it."

Skidmore will travel to Nationals this weekend in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to race in the Olympic and Sprint distance on back to back days with a goal of qualifying for the 2015 World Triathlon Championships in Chicago.

It is rare for a woman to win the entire event but Skidmore was a perfect candidate to pull off the feat. The 30-year-old was making her second appearance at the event, although first in the International field. Last summer, Skidmore made her debut in Greenfield by winning the women's Sprint Competition, finishing fifth overall. The Sprint course is a bit shorter, consisting of a .31-mile swim, 14.87-mile bike and 3.07-mile run.

Skidmore actually went on to compete in the World Triathlon Championships last year in London, England, where she took 14th in the Sprint Competition in her age group and was the top American female in her age group.
She was back again this year in Greenfield and was running her 10th triathlon of the summer, and she and the other International competitors began hitting the water around 8 a.m. under cool, cloudy conditions. After the swim, athletes hopped on bikes for the middle portion of the event. At that point, light rain began to fall, making the roads slick, and causing multiple crashes. No competitors were seriously injured, but some scrapes and bruises were reported. Skidmore even saw someone in front of her wipe out and actually stopped to check on the person.

"It was a bummer that it rained today because there were a few crashes," she explained. "There was even a guy in front of me that wiped out and I was thankful that I didn't wipe out. He was OK. I stopped and made sure he was alright, but it got a little slick."

The rain did not last long, and by the time racers were finishing the run, the sun began to shine through as the humidity increased. Skidmore was followed by second-place finisher Keith McCormick, who was the men's overall champion with a time of 2:07:03.5. McCormick's finish was also unusual in that he was one of the oldest racers in the event at age 60.

Of the 72 competitors, only 12 were older than McCormick, who according to information found on the Internet went to the 1976 Summer Olympics as an alternate United States pentathlete. McCormick is now a chiropractor in Amherst.
Skidmore crushed the rest of the women's field, finishing nearly 14 minutes ahead of second-place finisher Ann Domigan of Reading, who came in 18th overall in 2:20:03, while Elizabeth Bianchi from West Chesterfield took third (23rd overall) in the women's field in 2:23:15.

By Lloyd Jones

CONWAY — Jeff Locke never lost his poise and gave the Pittsburgh Pirates a chance to get a win — that's all you can ask of starting pitcher.

The Redstone resident and former Kennett High graduate, overcame a shaky start to pitch seven innings and Josh Harrison had three hits to extend his hot streak as the Pirates beat the Miami Marlins 7-3 on Wednesday night.

Locke (3-3, 3.76 ERA) gave up three runs in the first two innings, and then shut out the Marlins over his last five.

"I was a little out of my groove early on," Locke said. "It was tough to settle in, but (catcher) Russell (Martin) and I were on the same page. You have to trust in yourself. Walks weren't an issue. I moved the ball in and out, changed speeds and let my defense do the work. ...You've got to just keep attacking the strike zone and know that every ball they hit won't be a hit or a home run."

The left-hander gave up six hits, no walks, and struck out seven, beating Miami for the first time in five starts. He retired the final 13 Marlins he faced in order and even through in a sixth inning single center to round out his evening.

"It's easy to let things snowball, it's easy to let things carry on," Locke said. "I think after I settled down a little bit and started getting more control I think I said the same thing to (pitching coach Ray Searage). I think I learned more and felt more comfortable with (Wednesday night's) start than any other one all season just because we were able to limit the damage after they scored and give the team a little cushion."

Christian Yelich hit a two-run homer that drew Miami within 4-3 in the second. The Marlins never scored again and Locke retired the last 13 batters he faced.

"He was just persistent," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said of Locke. "He's stubborn with his confidence and knew he could find a slot and stay with it. (Catcher) Russell (Martin) kept him in a good place. He ran the table, 13 straight to go out in the seventh. As well as he's pitched all year from the end of the third to the seventh. Good command with his fastball. In when he wanted to get it, some two-seamers, change-up played again, the curveball came into play. All his pitches were working."

Locke agreed that it was one of his best starts, simply because of how he eventually settled in.

"I would categorize it up there, just because we gave the runs up early, and anything can happen when you do that. It's easy to let things snowball," he said. "Especially, when you get some runs from the offense, then give them right back."

Locke next scheduled start is slated to come on Monday (7:35 p.m.) when the Pirates (60-53) host Detroit (62-49). He'll be opposed by Justin Verlander (10-10. 4.57 ERA).

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette contributed to this story.

 

CONWAY — Jeff Locke struggled with his command in spots, giving up six earned runs and 10 hits Friday in Colorado, but he also received little support from a Pirates offense that went flat for the second night in a row, falling 6-1.

The Pirates (55-49) were outscored, 16-2, Friday and Saurday and held to nine hits in 18 innings.

Locke, from Redstone, finished 6 2⁄3 innings, giving up five runs and 10 hits, three of which were home runs. He walked three (one intentionally) and struck out six. The first two home runs were off fastballs up, the final one on a change-up that didn't move.

"All the home runs. Big field, you know balls drop in, balls go over the fence," Locke said. "I was sporadic with the control but don't think it really contributed to the runs that much. Just not 100 percent sharp, I guess. It's a good hitting team. ... If they could pitch like they hit, they wouldn't be 15 and a half (games) back."

Locke is 2-2 on the season in eight starts. This season, he has pitched 68 2/3 innings; allowed 66 hits; 27 earned runs; 8 home runs; walked 11; and struck out 44 while holding opponents to a .256 batting average. His ERA is 3.54, jumping from 3.05 prior to the latest start.

He has nine starts in a row of pitching six innings or more and amazingly lowered his earned run average in eighth straight games until Saturday.

Locke gave up the first home run to Drew Stubbs on a 93 mph fastball to open the fourth. He also gave up solo shots to Nolan Arenado and Corey Dickerson in the seventh before Hurdle went to his bullpen.

Locke has been a popular addition to fantasy baseball rosters and ESPN is urging folks to stick with the left-hander.

"Locke had been enjoying a nice run on the mound over the past several weeks, but the hitter-friendly environment of Coors Field often gets the best of even the game's top pitchers. The 26-year-old southpaw put together an impressive 2.38 ERA and 0.99 WHIP across his previous 56.2 innings before heading out to Colorado, so there is no need for fantasy owners to make a knee-jerk reaction to this poor performance. Locke will look to rebound Friday against the Diamondbacks."

Locke next scheduled start is slated to come on Friday (7:35 p.m.) when the Pirates travel to Arizona to play the Diamondbacks (45-60). He'll be opposed by Josh Collmenter (8-5. 4.03 ERA).

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette contributed to this story.

 

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