Originally posted on Fox Sports  |  Last updated 8/22/13
While Jeff Locke insists his back is fine, the results haven't been for the Pittsburgh Pirates' left-hander since the All-Star break. Facing the slumping San Francisco Giants may be just what he needs to get back on track. Locke hopes to end a season-worst five-start winless drought and help the visiting Pirates maintain their slim lead in the NL Central on Thursday night in the opener of this four-game series. The Pirates (74-52) received another strong performance on the mound, but couldn't generate enough offense with only four hits in Wednesday's 2-1 loss in San Diego. The defeat cut their division lead to one game over St. Louis, which beat Milwaukee. Pittsburgh's starters have a 1.67 ERA in four games since allowing a season-high run total in a 15-5 loss to Arizona on Saturday. Locke (9-4, 2.90 ERA) had the worst start of his career in that contest, allowing eight runs and 10 hits over 2 2-3 innings. "Any start like that is a reality check," Locke said following the shor...
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