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Marte, Inge blast Mariners, 9-4

Starling Marte banged out eleven total bases, the Pirates hit a season-high five longballs, and Jeff Locke turned in another good start to key the team's fifth straight win


In what will probably not be a career highlight for Joe Saunders, the Pirates knocked the Seattle starter out in the second inning, with Brandon Inge delivering the crushing blow. The scoring started in the first with a flashback to April. Starling Marte got the Pirates off to a fast start by lining a triple into the rightfield corner, then scoring on a groundout by Jordy Mercer, who was making his tenth straight start at shortstop. The Bucs then broke the game open in the second. Russell Martin led off the inning with his eighth HR, a blow to right-center that belied the notion that Martin's power in 2011-12 was mostly a product of Yankee Stadium. Inge then followed a single by Tony Sanchez and a walk to Neil Walker with his first Pirate HR and first extra-base hit since May 5. With a double later in the game, Inge catapulted his OPS all the way to .503. Marte then gave the Pirates their second back-to-back HRs of the season. That was all the Bucs would need, although they added on later with solo shots by Marte, giving him eight on the year, and Gaby Sanchez, his seventh, as well as an RBI single by Mercer.

Jeff Locke scuffled with his command early, taking 43 pitches to get through the first two innings, but he settled down after that. He gave up one run in the second on a bloop single and another on a HR in the sixth by Kyle Seager. The win left Locke the Pirates' staff leader in wins with his 7-1 record. The two runs over seven innings dropped Locke into a tie for second in the NL in ERA with Clayton Kershaw, just 0.01 behind Matt Harvey. Locke also is tied for ninth among NL pitchers in WAR with Jordan Zimmerman, so he's traveling in some heady company these days.

Tony Watson worked a quick eighth, but Bryan Morris surrendered a two-run HR in the ninth. Duke Welker came on to get the last out.

The win leaves the Pirates 17 games over .500 for the first time since before giant heads became fashionable in MLB. They have baseball's second best record, and are a game behind St. Louis and two and half ahead of Cincinnati.