Pirates beat White Sox for 7th straight win
CHICAGO -- Starters John Danks and Jeff Locke both worked through one bad inning on Wednesday night, but it was Locke who was able to control damage the best, as the Pirates prevailed over the White Sox, 3-2, for their seventh straight win.
Locke surrendered two runs on just three hits in six innings, adding eight strikeouts to pick up the win. He allowed his lone runs in the sixth inning on an RBI double from Melky Cabrera and an RBI single from Avisail Garcia.
Those were the first runs allowed by Pittsburgh since the eighth inning on Saturday, with Locke adding the last five innings to a streak that stopped at 35 consecutive scoreless innings.
"The way everybody's been throwing the ball, really, you want to pick up where these guys are leaving it off," Locke said. "They've done such a fantastic job, it was my time to put my hand in and help this team out."
Chicago has lost six straight, a span in which it has averaged two runs a game. The sixth-inning runs ended the White Sox scoreless drought at 30 innings.
"You get tired of tipping your cap," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura. "Eventually you've got to be able to answer back to the best pitchers in the game. We're going to face pitchers just like this and we're going to face better ones. You have to be able to answer the bell and mount something that's going to be a little more than what we're doing right now."
Danks settled down to complete his sixth quality start of the season, rebounding after a difficult first inning. But he still picked up the loss, his eighth. Danks came back to pitch six scoreless innings on two hits after giving up three runs on three hits in the first.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
String of zeros runs out: The Pirates' and catcher Francisco Cervelli's shutout streaks had to end sometime -- but after having survived numerous harrowing threats along the way, they both found sudden death in the sixth inning. Locke had two outs and nobody on when he walked Adam Eaton, and Cabrera promptly doubled him home. The team's streak thus stopped at 35 innings, Cervelli's personal mark at 56.
Ventura ejected: Ventura picked up the 11th ejection of his managerial career after an interference call ruled Eaton out in the fourth inning. At first glance, Eaton had successfully stolen second base as Cabrera struck out. But he was called out after home-plate umpire Alfonso Marquez ruled Cabrera had stepped over the plate and in the way of catcher Francisco Cervelli.
"He crossed over home plate," Ventura said. "We've had it before where Tyler [Flowers] is throwing and they say you have to make contact. I'm just tired of the interpretations." More >
Start 'em up: The Pirates wasted little time jumping on the board, scoring three runs in the first inning off Danks. Josh Harrison led off with a double and was moved over on a sacrifice bunt before Andrew McCutchen hit an RBI single -- his 42nd RBI this season. Jung Ho Kang launched a two-run home run in the next at-bat.
"We feel like we're going to win every game. We have the guys to do it, but we're just not doing it. We're not playing consistent baseball and hopefully that will turn around tomorrow." -- Danks, on his team's confidence level during a six-game losing streak
"It's always strange when any of our pitchers gives up any runs." -- Pittsburgh's Josh Harrison
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
• The White Sox collected four hits, marking the third straight game they've had four hits or fewer. The last time that happened was June 2-4, 1985.
• Wednesday night's save was Mark Melancon's 20th consecutive successful save conversion, as well as his 71st in two-plus seasons with the Pirates, breaking his tie with Jose Mesa for sole possession of fifth place on the team's all-time list.
MARTE TWEAKS LEFT ANKLE
Pirates outfielder Starling Marte was removed from the game with discomfort in his left ankle, which he had jarred when leaping atop first base in an attempt to beat out an infield single in the top of the eighth. Marte remained in the game defensively in the bottom of the inning, but again tweaked the ankle when pushing off it in a futile attempt to make a diving catch. Marte was receiving treatment, and is to be evaluated prior to Thursday's game.
With two outs in the eighth, Marte hit a grounder to White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez and was ruled safe. But White Sox bench coach Mark Parent -- filling in for Ventura -- challenged the call, which was quickly overturned to end the inning.
Pirates: Gerrit Cole, the National League leader in wins (10) and ERA (1.71) seeks his sixth consecutive win, as well as his sixth win in seven Interleague decisions, when he faces the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field in the 8:10 p.m. ET wrap of the four-game, home-and-away series with the White Sox.
White Sox: Right-hander Jeff Samardzija looks for his first win since May 27 when he takes the mound at U.S. Cellular Field. Samardzija has allowed 18 runs and 28 hits in his last three outings, but he holds a 2.22 ERA in 20 appearances against the Pirates. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. CT.
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