The Pirates rode three first-inning runs and a strong performance from Jeff Locke to yet another victory, a 3-2 win over the White Sox that moved them to 11 games above .500.
The Bucs got on the board quickly against John Danks in the first. Josh Harrison led off with a double to left, and then Starling Marte sacrificed him over. I'm not sure why Marte would sacrifice with no outs, Andrew McCutchen coming up, and Danks on the hill, but whatever -- McCutchen singled Harrison home, and then Jung-Ho Kang hit a two-run, line-drive homer to the opposite field to make it 3-0.
That proved to be enough for Jeff Locke, who wasn't especially efficient but otherwise had a fantastic start -- he threw as hard as 95 MPH, got a lot of mileage out of inside fastballs, avoided mistake pitches, and generally looked great. He carried the Pirates' streak of scoreless innings into the sixth, when he walked Adam Eaton and gave up a run-scoring double to Melky Cabrera. Jose Abreu then walked, and Avisail Garcia singled home the White Sox' second run. Locke left after six, having struck out eight and walked two.
The Pirates' scoreless streak ended at 35 innings, by the way, while Francisco Cervelli's streak of scoreless innings caught ended at 56. That's incredible, and it speaks to how good the Pirates' staff has been that Locke's two-run, six-inning performance felt faintly disappointing until you shook your head and asked yourself how you could possibly be thinking that.
Arquimedes Caminero pitched the seventh and threw his usual 100-MPH gas, getting good defensive work from Jordy Mercer, Sean Rodriguez and Cervelli en route to a 1-2-3 inning. Caminero didn't strike anyone out, but he's been great lately -- this was his fourth straight scoreless outing, and he's quickly emerging as an indispensable part of a Bucs bullpen that's quietly been very reliable lately. Tony Watson pitched a quiet eighth inning, and Mark Melancon pitched a quick ninth, as he usually does.
One quick note: Marte appeared to tweak his ankle running through first base in the eighth. In the bottom of the inning, he ran in to try to field Cabrera's line-drive single, and he grimaced a bit after he threw the ball back in. It didn't look like any big deal, but obviously, the Pirates won't want to be without Marte for any significant period of time.
Anyway, the Pirates' scoreless streak is over, but a more important one continues -- they've won seven in a row, and they're now 20-5 since May 22. They've had their fair share of bad or underachieving opponents lately, but they're playing brilliantly. There's no better word for it.