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COL@PIT: Matzek strikes out eight in quality start

Two solid young southpaws will be on the mound Saturday as the Pirates and Rockies continue their Coors Field series Saturday night.

Pittsburgh took the first game of the weekend set, 8-1.

Jeff Locke will go for the Pirates, and he'll be looking for his ninth consecutive quality start. Only once this season, in his first outing, did Locke fail to record a quality start.

Locke pushed the envelope of that stretch in his last appearance when he allowed two homers in six innings to these Rockies. He nearly doubled his season home run total, having only allowed three in the 56 innings prior.

"You try to execute pitches, and sure you might throw 85 or 100 pitches on the day," a frustrated Locke said after that outing. "Not all of them are going to go where you want, but you sure as hell would like to have most of them go that way."

Saturday, he'll have the added disadvantage at pitching in hitter-friendly Denver. In one previous start at Coors Field, he went 5 2/3 innings, allowing one earned run off three hits.

Locke will be opposed by Tyler Matzek, who won his debut on June 11, but hasn't won since. That's not to say, however, that Matzek hasn't pitched well since then.

As could be expected, the rookie's ERA at home is significantly higher (5.92) than it is on the road (3.86).

The last time he pitched, Matzek set a career high for strikeouts with eight. He noted afterward the aggressiveness of the Pirates hitters he'll see again Saturday.

"They were being real aggressive," Matzek said. "We had to change our approach, start pitching a little backwards and out-think them a little bit more."

Pirates: Bullpen has been key to Pittsburgh success
The last time these two teams met, last weekend in Pittsburgh, the Pirates' bullpen was the difference.

All three wins went to Pittsburgh relievers, who allowed only one run in 11 total innings.

In fact, the entire Pirates pitching staff was strong in that series -- starters allowed just five earned runs over 18 innings for a 2.50 ERA.

But the bullpen has become integral for Pittsburgh this season. The unit led baseball with 24 wins, entering Friday's game, and also has 30 saves.

In Friday's series opener, the bullpen struggled as Ernesto Frieri allowed four runs on three hits in just an inning.

Rockies: Arenado pulled from Friday's game
Third baseman Nolan Arenado was pulled from Friday night's series opener in the fifth inning because he didn't hustle down to first base on a ground ball to the pitcher.

Rockies manager Walt Weiss sent Charlie Culberson to play third in the top of the fifth. Arenado had to watch as the Rockies raced to an 8-1 victory at Coors Field.

"We've talked a lot about playing the game hard and playing the game right, and how important that is," Weiss said. "Especially when you've been getting your [butt] kicked for a while, it's even more important. It's imperative. So I just felt like Nolan didn't meet that standard at that point.

"Now, Nolan's a great kid. He's a great player. That's how I saw it."

The 23-year-old lost a five-game hitting streak as his night ended 0-for-2 at the plate.

Arenado was not available after the game, but apologized through a club official and said he would address the incident Saturday.

Worth noting
Entering Friday, Pittsburgh had played in more one-run games than any team in baseball with 40.

The Pirates were 20-26 on the road this season entering Friday's game, but 5-2 in their last seven.

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