MILWAUKEE — Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle won't make a rash decision about Jeff Locke's spot in the rotation after another subpar start.
Locke certainly isn't helping his case in the heat of a pennant race.
Locke (7-9) was tagged for five runs and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings in a 9-4 loss on Wednesday night to the Milwaukee Brewers. The NL wild card-leading Pirates have lost five straight and seven of their last eight to the fourth-place Brewers.
Locke had a 5.46 ERA in August, and his second-half ERA overall ballooned to 5.88 following his latest start.
"We continue to work at it. He continues to try to become more consistent. We haven't reconciled," Hurdle said.
Hurdle said the team will have internal conversations when asked about Locke's spot in the rotation.
"Those don't ever pop up after a game when a guy leaves after 3 2/3 innings," Hurdle said.
Jonathan Lucroy drove in three runs and extended his hitting streak to a career high-tying 10 games. Adam Lind homered, singled and drove in two runs for Milwaukee.
Locke had a 2.53 ERA in three previous starts this year against Milwaukee.
"You don't take the mound saying, 'Gee, this could be the last one,'" Locke said when asked if his job was in jeopardy. "You go out there and try to win the game for your team."
Some of the loudest cheers of the night were reserved for Lucroy after his two-out, two-run single in the fourth snapped a 3-3 tie and chased Locke. The fans serenaded him with a cry of "Luuuuc" after he reached first base.
Pitching coach Ray Searage visited the mound before Lucroy's at-bat. The plan was to go the bullpen if Locke walked Lucroy.
"We gave him Lucroy. That's a decision I make," Hurdle said.
Lucroy, Lind and Scooter Gennett combined for five two-out RBIs. Manager Craig Counsell loves the approach of his team at the plate, where they've struggled for stretches.
"I just think it's a product of good at-bats. Two outs, two strikes, putting the ball in play. I think we're doing a really good job of that right now," Counsell said.
Former Brewers star Aramis Ramirez drove in all four runs for the Pirates, including a three-run homer in the fourth.
Ramirez added an RBI double in the fifth in his first series at Miller Park since being dealt to Pittsburgh in late July.
Ramirez homered for the second straight night, though the applause from the still-appreciative Milwaukee crowd wasn't quite as enthusiastic as the ovation he received on Tuesday.
ON THE MOUND
Reliever Jeremy Jeffress (4-0) picked up the win after tossing a perfect seventh and eighth innings. He came in with a 6-4 lead and was awarded the victory — starter Zach Davies lasted only 4 1/3 innings in his big league debut.
Davies cruised through his first three innings before struggling the second time through the Pirates order.
Next time, Davies said he's going to be a little more aggressive on the mound.
"Throwing pitches a little off, a little low, making sure I'm going after them and that I know I'm confident in my pitches," he said.
Pirates: C Francisco Cervelli spent a couple minutes sitting near the plate in pain after a foul tip by Elian Herrera ricocheted off his lower right leg in the second inning. Cervelli stayed in the game.
Pirates: Francisco Liriano (9-6) is 8-2 with a 2.89 ERA in 17 starts since giving up a season-high seven runs on May 19 against Minnesota. The left-hander is 6-5 with a 4.06 ERA in 14 career games against Milwaukee.
Brewers: Taylor Jungmann (8-5) has been one of the top rookie starters in the league since making his debut on June 9 at Pittsburgh, when the right-hander gave up three hits and struck out five in a 4-1 win. Opponents are batting .227 against him this season.
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