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Pirates sweep Athletics with 6-3 win

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

David Freese homered, the Pirates' offense managed a few key hits, and the bullpen held as the Bucs left Oakland with a 6-3 victory and a series sweep Sunday.

Francisco Liriano didn't exactly have a good start, but his control was at least good enough that he wasn't disastrous, which feels like progress -- he only managed two strikeouts over five innings, but he walked just one batter. He allowed two runs in the second on a series of hits by Khris Davis, Billy Butler and Jake Smolinski and a groundout by Matt McBride. But the Pirates tied the game in the fifth when the always-hitting Frazier doubled, Jordy Mercer walked, John Jaso got hit by a pitch, and Gregory Polanco reached down for a fastball and slashed it up the middle to score two.

The A's tied the game in the bottom of the inning when McBride doubled and came home on a single by Coco Crisp. But the Athletics gave the Pirates an opportunity in the sixth, and the Bucs seized it. Matt Joyce walked, and Josh Harrison hit into what should have been an easy double play. New A's second baseman Tyler Ladendorf rushed the throw, though, and Harrison was safe at first. (The Athletics don't rate as a very good defensive team, and they certainly didn't look like one this series.) Harrison then raced around the bases to score the tying run on Frazier's triple. (Frazier is now 7-for-14 in his big-league career.) Erik Kratz -- whose few Pirates hits always seem to come at exactly the right time -- later brought Frazier home with an infield single to give the Bucs a 4-3 lead.

Liriano gave way to the Pirates' bullpen after that, and Bucs relievers proceeded to work themselves out of two jams. A.J. Schugel gave up a leadoff double to Davis and then a walk to Smolinski, but escaped when David Freese snagged Stephen Vogt's liner and doubled off Smolinski at first. Neftali Feliz then allowed back-to-back singles to start the seventh, but whiffed Marcus Semien, got Josh Reddick to pop out, and also struck out Danny Valencia to strand the runners at first and third.

The Pirates added a much-needed pair of insurance runs in the eighth as Mercer singled, then came home on a two-run shot by Freese. Tony Watson and Mark Melancon then finished out the late innings, completing the Bucs' series sweep and running the Pirates' bullpen's scoreless streak to a remarkable 32.2 innings.

The Bucs have now won four straight and seven of their last nine, and they're back to .500, at 41-41. They'll head to St. Louis for a four-game set that begins tomorrow afternoon.