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Pirates' Locke Takes Big Step Forward

BRADENTON, Fla. (93-7 THE FAN) -- After struggling with a new over-the-head windup in his first start this spring, mainly because he had to work out of the stretch most of the time, Pirates lefthander Jeff Locke kept runners off base in his second start and was much sharper and happier.

"Everything's coming along well, everything feels really good," said Locke, who allowed just 2 hits, 0 walks and 1 strikeout over 3 scoreless innings in a 1-0 loss to the Phillies at McKechnie Field. "With the results being much better, it always makes you feel a little bit better, too.

Locke said working with Chris Stewart, the same catcher as his first start, helped. He said it him feel more comfortable.

"It's not something you often get to do in spring training, and 'Stew' did a nice job of offering positive feedback," Locke said.

The two times Locke worked out of the stretch, he got a fly ball to end the first inning, then a double play to end the second.

"Fastball, curveball, change-up all played," manager Clint Hurdle said. "The curveball really showed up in the (1-2-3) third inning. Clean and crisp, it was a good building block for him."

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The Pirates had baserunners, both leadoff hitter Alen Hanson and clean-up hitster Starling Marte had 2 hits, but the Bucs couldn't score. Jason Rogers was cut down at the plate on Hanson's double in the 5th inning.

Jon Niese starts against the Phillies Tuesday in Clearwater, Florida.

Listen to more from Jeff Locke here:

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