Locke strong in Pirates’ defeat

Pittsburgh's Starling Marte steals second base during the Pirates' 1-0 loss to the Phillies. (AP)

BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) – Philadelphia’s Vincent Velasquez allowed three hits in three innings and the Phillies beat the Pittsburgh Priates 1-0 Monday.

Bidding for the final open rotation spot, the 23-year-old right-hander struck out three and walked one.

Velasquez said he was more at ease than in his first outing this spring training, when he gave up three runs – two earned – in two innings against Toronto.

“This time, everything was working,” Velasquez said. “I was working down in the bottom of the zone, not elevating my pitches. I’m comfortable with the outcome.”

Left-hander Brett Oberholtzer, who is competing with Velasquez, followed and gave up four hits in three innings with one strikeout. The Phillies acquired both pitchers in December as part of the deal that sent Ken Giles to Houston .

Oberholtzer is out of minor league options, so he appears likely make the 25-man roster as a long reliever if he doesn’t win the rotation job.

Pirates left-hander Jeff Locke gave up two hits in three scoreless innings and struck out one.

“Everything feels really good,” Locke said. “A step in the right direction. The delivery is coming along real well. It’s all about getting comfortable with that.”

In his first outing this spring training, Locke gave up four runs against Detroit.

“Last time, I couldn’t really get in a groove because the first guy got on base,” Locke said. “This time, we were really able to pound strike one. We were just where we needed to be. When you have good results, it makes you think your work was better.”

Brock Stassi doubled leading off the seventh against A.J. Schugel and scored on Andres Blanco’s double.

Starling Marge and Alen Hanson each had two hits for the Pirates.