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Bucs back Cole with longballs and beanballs

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MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

Gerrit Cole turned in his third straight ace-like performance, allowing just one run on five hits in six innings, and the offense drove in five by either homerun or base-loaded hit by pitch, as the Pirates took the second game of the series 7-3 at Busch Stadium.

Cole allowed a homer to the first batter he faced in the game, Matt Carpenter, which tied the score at one after Josh Bell singled home Josh Harrison, who had doubled, in the top of the first.

The game stayed tied at one until the fourth, when with two outs Andrew McCutchen singled on a check swing pop fly to right and Jordy Mercer yanked his seventh homer inside the foul pole down the left field line.

The Pirates tacked on another, extending their lead to 4-1, when Josh Harrison hit a solo homer to left off Cardinals’ starter Lance Lynn, his ninth of the year.

They broke open the game with three more in the seventh. David Freese walked to leadoff the inning, McCutchen singled him to third with one out, and Freese scored on Mercer’s groundout. The Cardinals elected to intentionally walk Chris Stewart to bring the pitcher Cole to the plate with two outs, but Lynn walked Cole to load the bases, forcing his own exit from the game. Reliever John Brebbia then promptly hit both Adam Frazier and Harrison with pitches to drive in the sixth and seventh runs.

Meanwhile Cole had allowed only one well struck hit since Carpenter’s leadoff homer, a line single in the third by Jedd Gyorko. Lance Lynn had a ground rule double on a catchable fly that was misread by Gregory Polanco. The final two hits allowed were both in the sixth, Cole’s final inning - a squibber by Tommy Pham that skipped past Mercer at short and a broken bat blooper by Jose Martinez. Cole walked two and struck out five.

The Cardinals made it interesting in the bottom of the ninth, scoring a pair off Wade LeBlanc on a single, walk, single and walk, forcing Clint Hurdle to get Felipe Rivero up in the bullpen before Aledmys Diaz popped up to Mercer to end the game.

Harrison and McCutchen (now batting 269/351/485) each had two hits and Mercer drove in three.

The Pirates go for the sweep tomorrow in another nationally televised late game, reportedly at 8:05 p.m. ET (check local listings), as Chad Kuhl (2-6, 5.46) takes on Mike Leake (5-6, 3.03)