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Polanco, McCutchen homer as Pirates beat Cubs 7-5

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Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The Bucs held on despite an ugly sixth inning by Jeff Locke, riding strong offensive performances from Gregory Polanco, Andrew McCutchen and Francisco Cervelli to a 7-5 win.

The Pirates took an early lead in the first, as the now-potent Polanco led off with a homer. Later in the inning, the Bucs put runners on via a walk and a single, and then an error by Kris Bryant. Then Pedro Alvarez singled to right, scoring a runner, although Chris Denorfia made a strong throw to nail Aramis Ramirez at home later in the play. The Bucs went up 3-0 in the third as McCutchen homered.

Jeff Locke, meanwhile, mostly cruised through the early innings. In the fourth, Locke did run into a bit of trouble as he gave up a double to Schwarber, who then moved up on a wild pitch and came home on a sacrifice fly. Locke recovered with a strong fifth inning, though, and the Bucs moved back up by three in the bottom of the inning, as Starling Marte singled, scored second, and came home on a weird single by Ramirez in which three Cubs infielders converged on a ground ball but failed to field it.

The wheels came off quickly for Locke in the sixth. He walked Dexter Fowler with one out, then hung a breaking ball to Kyle Schwarber, who hit a fly ball that just cleared the wall in center. Two batters later, Locke gave up another homer, this time to Anthony Rizzo, tying the game at four. Jared Hughes then allowed all three batters he faced to reach safely, although Antonio Bastardo then entered and induced a groundout on one pitch to end the inning.

Despite that mess, though, the Pirates offense had Locke's back. In the bottom of the sixth, Cervelli and then Mike Morse singled off Travis Wood, and Polanco brought home a run with a single to right. Pedro Strop came on in relief and issued a walk to Starling Marte, and McCutchen made it 6-4 with a sacrifice fly.

Joakim Soria pitched a great seventh inning, whiffing two batters, including Schwarber, who whiffed on a glorious 71-MPH curve. Tony Watson pitched a terrific eighth, notably striking out Rizzo on a nine-pitch at bat that was impressive for both sides.

The Bucs got a bit of insurance in the eighth as Cervelli led off with a triple, then came home on a single by Sean Rodriguez. Mark Melancon allowed a run in the ninth on a single, a double and a groundout, but the Pirates held on to win 7-5.