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Rocky 3rd inning hurts Locke as Pittsburgh Pirates lose 6-4 to Chicago Cubs

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PITTSBURGH — Jeff Locke's rocky third inning was a costly one for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Locke gave up a two-run homer by Javier Baez in Chicago's three-run third, and the Pirates lost 6-4 to the Cubs on Saturday night.

Russell Martin hit a three-run double in the eighth for Pittsburgh, which had won seven of eight. Travis Snider hit a leadoff homer in the ninth against Cubs closer Hector Rondon, who then retired three in a row for his 24th save in 28 chances.

"I just didn't make pitches when I needed to in that one inning," Locke said. "It was the difference in the game. We came back and scored four runs late and we probably would have won if I had gotten out of the inning with less damage."

The Pirates' lead for the second NL wild card stayed at 1 1/2 games over Milwaukee, which lost 5-1 to Cincinnati. But Pittsburgh dropped to 3 1/2 games back of NL Central-leading St. Louis, which was a 5-4 winner over Colorado.

Locke (7-5) allowed three runs in 5 1-3 innings, throwing just 62 of 106 pitches for strikes. He lost for just the second time in his last seven decisions.

"He just seemed to be missing by a couple of inches with his fastball," said Martin, the Pirates' catcher.

It was Baez's second homer in two nights and No. 9 on the season. Fellow rookie Matt Szczur added a leadoff drive in the eighth for his first career homer.

Baez is 4 for 15 with two homers and three RBIs in his last four games after going 6 for 62 with 28 strikeouts during a prolonged slump for the 21-year-old infielder.

PHOTO: Chicago Cubs' Matt Szczur, right, celebrates with Arismendy Alcantara (7) after hitting a solo home run off Pittsburgh Pirates' Justin Wilson during the eighth inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014. The Cubs won 6-4. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Chicago Cubs' Matt Szczur, right, celebrates with Arismendy Alcantara (7) after hitting a solo home run off Pittsburgh Pirates' Justin Wilson during the eighth inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014. The Cubs won 6-4. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

"I'm just trying to go up to the plate with a good approach," Baez said. "I've been working with (hitting coach Bill Mueller) and trying to have better at-bats. I've felt more comfortable the last few days."

Martin and Snider had two hits apiece.

Felix Doubront (2-1) pitched six scoreless innings for the Cubs in his third start since he was acquired in a trade with the Boston Red Sox.

The Pirates had won seven straight games against the Cubs.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Pirates: LF Starling Marte sat out for the second game in a row with a bruised left arm and likely won't return to action until at least Tuesday for the opener of a three-game home series against Boston.

Cubs: 1B Anthony Rizzo missed his 17th straight game with a lower back strain but remains on course to return to the lineup Monday night when Chicago hosts Cincinnati.

UP NEXT

RHP Jacob Turner (5-9, 5.84 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Cubs on Sunday against RHP Edinson Volquez (11-7, 3.36 ERA) in the finale of the three-game series.

Turner is 1-2 with a 6.19 ERA in three starts since being acquired Aug. 8 in a trade with Miami. Volquez is 3-0 with a 2.29 ERA in his last nine starts and has not lost since July 21 to the Dodgers.

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