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Pirates 8, Cubs 2

The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- Right-hander Gerrit Cole allowed two runs and survived a scary sixth inning as he led the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 8-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night.

Cole (10-7) allowed seven hits, struck out six and walked one for his fourth straight victory in the second of a three-game series at Wrigley Field.

The victory was the second in a row for the Pirates, who clinched at least a wild-card spot in the National League playoffs, and the Cubs dropped their third straight and fourth in five games.

Pedro Alvarez went 2-for-5 with three RBIs, Marlon Byrd was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen each went 2-for-5 with a run scored and RBI apiece.

Ryan Sweeney went 3-for-3 and Starlin Castro had two hits for Chicago.

Cole had a solid outing under way until the sixth, when he loaded the bases with none out. Ryan Sweeney scored on an error to cut the deficit to 6-2, but Cole struck out the next two batters and got Donnie Murphy to fly out to deep right.

Left-hander Justin Wilson relieved Cole to start the seventh inning.

In the eighth, Chicago reliever Alberto Cabrera gave up a run-scoring double to Marte that brought home pinch-runner Felix Pie from third. McCutchen then singled to drive in Marte and make it 8-2.

The Pirates pushed three runs across in the second inning. Alvarez doubled home Byrd with one out as he lined the ball into the right field ivy. That left runners at second and third for Cole, who singled up the middle to drive in Gaby Sanchez and Alvarez for a 3-0 lead.

Jordy Mercer made it 4-0 in the third with his seventh home run of the season, a leadoff shot to left. Byrd singled, Sanchez moved Byrd to third with a double to left and that was it for Cubs starter Chris Rusin. He left after 2 1/3 innings, allowing four runs and six hits. Left-hander Brooks Raley came in and struck out the next two batters to end the inning.

Chicago got one run back in the third. Logan Watkins led off with a single, advanced to second on Raley's sacrifice bunt and scored on a Castro base hit.

In the fifth, the Pirates loaded the bases against Cubs reliever Chang-Young Lim with none out and Alvarez lined a one-out double down the third base line to score Byrd and McCutchen for a 6-1 lead.

An intentional walk to pinch-hitter Neil Walker loaded the bases for Cole, who struck out for the second out. Right-handed reliever Blake Parker, the fourth Cubs pitcher, then struck out Marte.

Tuesday's game lacked drama and hoopla after the Pirates locked down a postseason wild card berth on Monday, their first trip to the playoffs in 21 years.

NOTES: RHP Jason Grilli's save on Monday was his 32nd of the season and gave the Pirates 53 for the year, a club record since saves became an official statistic in 1969. The previous record was 52 set by the 1979 World Series champion Pirates. ... In 73 career games against Chicago, McCutchen is hitting .336 with 17 doubles, three triples and nine homers, reaching base safely in 66 of those games. ... After Wednesday's series finale in Chicago, Pittsburgh closes the regular season with three weekend games in Cincinnati. ... Pirates LHP Francisco Liriano (16-7, 2.88 ERA) goes against Cubs RHP Jake Arrieta (3-2, 3.94 ERA) on Wednesday. ... Rusin and Travis Wood could become the first Cubs lefties with at least 10 starts and ERAs below 3.80 since Ken Holtzman and Rich Nye in 1967. ... Tuesday's game was the Cubs' 30th and final night start of 2013. They came into the game 12-17 under the lights. ... The Cubs will have more wins on the road than home for just the third time in the last 18 season. They were 30-50 at home and 35-43 away from Wrigley Field with three road games to play.

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