PITTSBURGH — More than midway through a season in which the Phillies have looked far from one of the National League's best teams, Domonic Brown continues to make the case that he's one of its best outfielders.
Brown slugged his 22nd home run – second in the NL behind Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez – but Philadelphia lost for the fourth time in six games, 6-5 to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night.
Brown's homer deep down the right-field line came as the Phillies were down to their final strike with Jimmy Rollins aboard. It pulled Philadelphia to within one, but Jason Grilli stuck out Delmon Young to seal his NL-best 28th save.
"I'd like to make the All-Star team; it'd be a great honor," said the 25-year-old Brown, who had three hits to improve his average to .280 and has three homers on the Phillies' current road trip. "But I'm not really thinking about that right now. I'm thinking about our team and how we can start winning some games. The All-Star Game would be nice but the big thing is to get things turned around here."
The third-place Phillies (40-45) remained 9 1/2 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East. Philadelphia snapped the Pirates' nine-game winning streak in the series opener Tuesday, but were not as crisp the following day.
"You talk about consistency – well, that's kind of how we play, up and down," manager Charlie Manuel said. "That's kind of how our team has been so far. That's why we can't put a winning streak together and have a hard time staying at .500 and things like that."
Pittsburgh, on the other hand, has been the majors' most consistent club. Jeff Locke won his eighth consecutive decision and Pedro Alvarez hit a three-run homer for the team with the majors' best record (52-31).
Locke (8-1) was scored upon for the first time in four home starts, but extended his unbeaten streak to 16 outings. Locke, who hasn't lost since his first start of the season, allowed two earned runs on seven hits and three walks over 5 2-3 innings.
"They're going to get their hits – and I'm also going to make my pitches," Locke said. "I'm going to win some battles; they're going to win some battles. A night like tonight they're finding some holes and hitting the ball pretty hard at points, you've just got to try to stay consistent and don't teeter away from what you do well."
The Pirates took the lead with a four-run fifth punctuated by Alvarez's 21st home run.
Andrew McCutchen reached base five times, scoring twice for the Pirates.
Delmon Young and Brown each had three hits for the Phillies, who have lost four of six. Young has 1,001 career hits.
Philadelphia's John Lannan (1-3) fell to 1-5 in his career against the Pirates, getting tagged for four runs on 11 hits and three walks in five innings. Manuel said, "It definitely wasn't one of (Lannan's) better games."
Still, he kept Pittsburgh off the scoreboard through four. The Pirates left seven men on base in that stretch.
"I was battling all night, and I was able to pitch myself out of a lot of jams," Lannan said. "But then I made a bad pitch to Alvarez, and that was the difference in the game."
McCutchen, Sanchez and Martin hit consecutive one-out singles in the fifth, the latter driving in a run. Alvarez followed with his fourth home run over his past six games against the Phillies.
Those runs erased an early deficit for the Pirates. When Ben Revere drove in Brown with a bloop single to left with two outs in the fourth, it snapped a 24-inning scoreless streak for Locke at PNC Park. That's the longest home shutout streak for a Pirates pitcher since Jerry Reuss did it for 34 innings in 1975.
Justin Wilson allowed an RBI single to pinch hitter Kevin Frandsen, but – after Jordy Mercer's error led to another Phillies run – struck out Chase Utley to end the sixth.
Jeanmar Gomez struck out pinch-hitter Ryan Howard to finish a scoreless seventh and Mark Melancon worked a perfect eighth.
Brown's home run off of Grilli snapped a 27 1-3-inning scoreless streak by the Pirates' bullpen.
NOTES: Howard was not in the starting lineup for the second time in a four-game span. Howard, who snapped out of an 0-for-22 slump with two hits Tuesday, has been bothered by a sore left knee all season. He was walking gingerly after Tuesday's game, one in which he scored from first by sprinting on a double during the sixth inning. ... Buoyed by thousands of Phillies fans who made the drive across the state, the announced paid crowd of 33,197 was the Pirates' eighth consecutive of at least 30,000 at home. ... RHP Gerrit Cole is the first Pirates pitcher to win each of his first four career starts in more than a century. He makes his fifth major-league start in the series finale Thursday. LHP Cole Hamels (2-11, 4.58), who starts for the Phillies, has one win since April.