ST. LOUIS (AP) - Jeff Locke escaped a largely self-induced bases loaded jam in the first inning. In the rest of an abbreviated outing, five walks came back to haunt the Pittsburgh Pirates lefty who did so well against the St. Louis Cardinals his last time out.
"I just never really got into that rhythm," Locke said after a 6-4 loss on Tuesday night. "Never threw enough strikes. Just fought myself all day, didn't give us a chance to win at all."
Some of the best swings came from starting pitcher Adam Wainwright, who earned his 16th win and matched his career best with three RBIs. All of them came against Locke (6-4).
"He's one of the best-hitting pitchers there is," Locke said. "You can't treat him like a pitcher whatsoever because he's a tremendous athlete."
Locke allowed a run in 7 1-3 innings with two walks to beat the Cardinals his last time out and had a similar strategy on Tuesday. He was charged with five runs - four earned - in three-plus innings.
It was his shortest outing of the year.
"I'm not sure why he would try and approach them differently after pitching into the eighth inning at home," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He wasn't able to get the ball where he wanted to."
The bottom of the order was the difference in the fourth win in a row for the NL Central leaders. Eighth-place hitter Peter Bourjos singled twice with an RBI, and seventh-place hitter Daniel Descalso walked twice and scored twice.
Wainwright (16-9) prevailed despite allowing three home runs to match his career worst. He left after Starling Marte's two-run shot shaved the lead to 5-4 with none out in the seventh. It was the first time he had allowed more than one homer all season.
Russell Martin and Jordy Mercer homered with the bases empty for the Pirates, who have lost three in a row.
"The ball was elevated and we put good swings on it," Hurdle said. "But when you give up five like we did against Wainwright it makes it difficult."
Despite the damage, Wainwright didn't face any batters with runners in scoring position. He lost his previous two outings, the last at Pittsburgh when he allowed three runs in six innings.
The first four Cardinals reached base in a three-run fourth that snapped a 2-all tie. Wainwright's two-run single chased Locke. Wainwright also had a run-scoring groundout in the second and matched a three-RBI game he had against the Brewers on July 4, 2010, in which he also threw a complete game in a 7-1 win.
Jhonny Peralta doubled to start the seventh and scored on a wild pitch by John Axford that put St. Louis up 6-4. Trevor Rosenthal got a day off, and Pat Neshek finished for his fifth save in eight chances.
Pirates: Pedro Alvarez missed his sixth straight game with left foot discomfort. Charlie Morton (hip) threw 76 pitches in a four-inning simulated game earlier Tuesday and could join the bullpen soon.
Cardinals: Kolten Wong didn't start for the second straight game after banging his head making a catch. He pinch-hit in both games, and his homer tied it on Monday.
Pirates: Edinson Volquez (11-7, 3.45) has won seven of his last eight decisions. He is 4-6 with a 5.06 ERA in 14 career starts against the Cardinals.
Cardinals: Shelby Miller (8-9, 4.19) is 2-6 with a 4.98 ERA against Pittsburgh, including 2-2 this year.
Cardinals 3B coach Jose Oquendo was ejected at the end of the third inning, apparently for arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire James Hoye.
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