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Cole wins 11th as Pirates edge White Sox, 3-2

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Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates followed an increasingly common script, getting a strong outing from Gerrit Cole, a flawless bullpen performance and barely enough offense to pull out a win.  Cole didn't strike out as many as usual, whiffing only four in seven innings, but he allowed just three hits and three walks.

The Pirates, meanwhile, managed ten hits in seven innings off Jeff Samardzija, who came into the game having held them to a pitiful .580 OPS in twenty career games.  The hits were all singles, though, many of them either bloops or infield hits.  It turned out to be just enough for two runs.  The first came in the 4th inning, when Josh Harrison singled, then was forced by Starling Marte, who went to third on a bloop single by Andrew McCutchen.  Marte scored on a bouncer by Jung-Ho Kang that glanced off Samardzija's glove and went for a hit.  The second run came the next inning when Jordy Mercer reached on an infield hit, took third on a weakly hit groundball single by Corey Hart and scored on a sacrifice fly by Harrison.  Hart went 3-3 as the DH, although none of his hits was especially well struck.

Cole had few difficult situations to face, but he gave up tying runs in the 4th and 7th.  The first came when a leadoff double by Jose Abreu eventually led to a sacrifice fly.  The second was a HR by Geovanny Soto.

By the time Soto connected, Cole was over 100 pitches and in danger of missing a chance for a win.  The Pirates solved that by scraping together another run in the top of the 8th.  Kang reached on a one-out infield hit and took third on a soft, line-drive single by Pedro Alvarez off former Pirate Zach Duke.  Kang then scored on a Gregory Polanco grounder that was hit too slowly for the Sox even to try for two.

The bullpen locked it down from there.  With Tony Watson having pitched in the previous two games, Arquimedes Caminero took the 8th and got three outs on just eight pitches.  Mark Melancon then retired the side in order in the 9th, striking out both Adam LaRoche and Melky Cabrera, for his league-leading 23rd save, the 21st in a row that he's converted.  Cole became the first eleven-game winner in the majors.  The Pirates extended their winning streak to eight, five of them by one run, and swept their four-game, home-and-home series with the White Sox.  They're now twelve games over .500 and four games behind the Cardinals.