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Pirates' bats chip away at A's, bullpen excellent again in 7-3 win

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Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

This one didn't look pretty good early on. The incessant drumming at the Coliseum had everyone rankled as Jeff Locke started walking guys and giving up hard hits. But as Locke settled a little, the Pirates chipped away against the A's. Suddenly, in the middle innings, the Bucs had a nice little lead and their new and improved bullpen held it down for a 7-3 victory on Friday night in Oakland.

To the beat of the outfield drummers, Locke walked leadoff man Jed Lowrie in the first. No. 2 hitter Marcus Semien drilled a ball over the wall just foul in left field, then planted one deep over the center-field wall, putting Oakland up 2-0 and making us all cranky. Locke walked another, and Chris Stewart allowed a passed ball, but they wriggled out of the inning with a couple groundouts.

With two outs in the second, Yonder Alonso reached on a bunt single. Starling Marte didn't quite have his bearings on Lowrie's fly to the wall, and it went for an RBI double, putting the Bucs in a 3-0 hole.

But the Pirates scored in each of the next four innings. Jordy Mercer hit a line-drive solo homer to left in the third, and Andrew McCutchen doubled and scored on a wild pitch in the fourth. Three straight singles by Matt Joyce, Josh Harrison and Mercer to start the fifth tied it at 3, and a Chris Stewart force out gave the Pirates the lead, 4-3.

The Pirates struck for three runs, all with two outs, in the sixth on a Joyce opposite-field single and a Harrison double. Just like that, the Bucs led, 7-3.

Locke actually held the A's to three hits (with three runs, three walks and three strikeouts) in his five innings. The downright trustworthy A.J. Schugel allowed the fourth and final Oakland hit of the night, but tossed a clean sixth. Arquimedes Caminero had us giddy with four strikeouts in two innings and looking like a new man. Mark Melancon pitched the ninth.

The 6-7-8 hitters, Joyce, Harrison and Mercer, all went 2-for-4 and combined to account for four runs scored and five RBIs.

I don't know if the drumming died down, but I didn't notice it once the Pirates started playing well. I suspect I'm not the only one.