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Pirates handle weak starter, win four-game series from Tigers

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MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Detroit Tigers Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Adam Frazier and Josh Bell came through against a nondescript starter and Gerrit Cole went eight strong innings as the Pirates took a 7-5 win from the Tigers. That gave them three wins in the teams’ four-game, home-and-home series.

Frazier, playing left with Starling Marte in center and Andrew McCutchen DHing, went 3-for-5, coming up a HR short of a cycle. He’s been hot since the All-Star break and is now batting .407 in the season’s second half. Frazier got the Pirates going with one out in the first, hitting a triple that a wandering Justin Upton successfully avoided in left. A sac fly by Bell one batter later gave the Pirates an early lead. Frazier added a two-run double in the fourth that stretched a 4-3 lead to 6-3.

Bell went 2-for-4, with the big blow being his 20th HR well back into the right-field seats. That came with Marte, who had doubled, on board and turned a 2-2 tie into a 4-2 lead.

The Pirates collected 13 hits in all, with Sean Rodriguez adding an RBI single and his fourth HR of the year. Marte and Gregory Polanco also had two hits apiece.

Cole, meanwhile, survived some early troubles, not all of it his fault. The most damaging blow came in the first when Pirate nemesis Nick Castellanos hit a bloop that was weak even by bloop standards that fell in down the right field line for a two-run triple. The hit was the third off Cole in the inning, which turned out to be half of the hits he’d allow. The only other damage off him came in the third, when a Mikie Mahtook longball cut the Pirates’ lead temporarily to one. Cole gave up a leadoff single in the fourth and a leadoff walk in the fifth, but both were erased on double plays. He retired the side in order in the sixth, seventh and eighth, finishing with seven strikeouts and throwing 102 pitches.

Juan Nicasio came on in the ninth with a 7-3 lead and retired only one of three hitters, and that came on a liner that Marte had to run down in deep right center. That brought in Felipe Rivero, who promptly surrendered a double to Victor Martinez. Another run scored on a groundout and Rivero finished his 11th save with a strikeout.