PITTSBURGH -- When asked Tuesday night about the injuries to Starling Marte and Francisco Cervelli, Josh Bell suggested the team was putting its "next man up" motto into practice. Bell drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning and the Pirates, playing without their star center fielder and catcher,
PITTSBURGH -- When asked Tuesday night about the injuries to Starling Marte and Francisco Cervelli, Josh Bell suggested the team was putting its "next man up" motto into practice. Bell drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning and the Pirates, playing without their star center fielder and catcher, held on for a 3-2 win over the White Sox at PNC Park on Wednesday afternoon.
"It seems like -- one through nine -- it doesn't matter who's in the lineup, we're trying to find a way to get a [win]," Bell said Wednesday. "Anybody who gets an opportunity has a chance to change the game in our favor, and that's fun to watch."
With one out and runners on first and second base in a tie game, Bell delivered a pinch-hit single to left field to drive in Elias Diaz -- who was starting in place of Cervelli -- and give the Pirates a one-run lead. Pittsburgh has now won seven of its past eight games.
Jameson Taillon showed no signs of being bothered by the finger laceration he suffered in his last start. He struck out five while allowing two earned runs -- coming on a pair of solo home runs -- over 5 2/3 innings. Taillon tested the hand out Tuesday through what he described as an aggressive game of catch, and he felt confident with the results coming into Wednesday.
"If I was going to do this, I wanted to make sure it was 100 percent," Taillon said of the finger on his right hand, which had scabbed following a laceration that occurred during his last start on Friday. "So I did, and it felt 100 percent. After my warmups, it wasn't even a thought the rest of the day."
Leury Garcia put the White Sox on the board in the top of the second inning by clubbing a fastball for a home run to right field. The Pirates answered in the bottom of the frame as Sean Rodriguez -- starting in center field in Marte's place -- roped a two-run double to left field to score Corey Dickerson and Diaz, putting Pittsburgh up 2-1.
In the top of the fifth inning, Yolmer Sanchez connected on a changeup left out over the heart of the plate and drove it into the seats in right field to tie the game at 2-2.
The bullpen would finish up by tossing 3 1/3 scoreless innings, with Felipe Vazquez coming on to pitch a quiet ninth -- allowing just a two-out single -- and record the save.
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
With the score tied at 2-2, Taillon started the top of the sixth inning by getting Nicky Delmonico to fly out to center field and Matt Davidson to pop out to first base. After two quick outs, however, he then gave up a double to Garcia, walked Omar Narvaez and allowed a single to Adam Engel to load the bases for the White Sox. 26-year-old relief pitcher Edgar Santana came in and induced a groundout to escape the jam and strand three runners on base, also completing the seventh inning and recording his first Major League win.
"I definitely like to come in that kind of situation with bases loaded, men on base, because I want to show the team that I can do the job," Santana said. "I know that's a tough situation in the game with men on base, but I think I'm ready for that situation. I like that."
Including off-days, the Pirates have now spent 25 days in first place this season. This matches the total number of days they spent in first place from 2014-17, per Baseball-Reference.com. They spent 18 days in first place in '14 and seven days in '16, but never made it to first in '15 or '17.
Bell is now 12-for-27 with 10 RBIs in his career as a pinch-hitter. He started his career with a pinch-hit single off then-Cub Jacob Arrieta on July 8, 2016. The following day, Bell hit a pinch-hit grand slam off Adam Warren. This season, he's 3-for-3 as a pinch-hitter, including Wednesday's go-ahead RBI single.
Chad Kuhl will start for the Pirates as they begin a four-game series against the Padres on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. ET. The Bucs are 7-2 against the Padres at PNC Park since the start of the 2015 season. Lefty Eric Lauer is scheduled to start for San Diego.
** Mason Wittner ** is a reporter for MLB.com.