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Prospect Cole holds O's in check for first spring win

Righty gives up two runs -- on two-run homer -- and two hits over four strong innings

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Playing the second of three games in four days against the Orioles, the Pirates benefited from a great start from Gerrit Cole and a key error to beat Baltimore, 5-2, at Ed Smith Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Pittsburgh jumped on Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez, making the start with Chris Tillman being scratched, for a four-run second inning. The Bucs were helped by an error in left field by Nate McLouth, who fell trying to catch Brad Hawpe's fly ball that changed direction due to the wind, and followed up the miscue with four hits, including Matt Hague's RBI double.

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Only one of the four runs was charged to Gonzalez, who issued leadoff walks in both innings in an uncharacteristically wild 46-pitch outing. Gonzalez, who pitched two scoreless innings in his first Grapefruit League appearance, struck out two on Sunday and allowed four hits and a pair of walks.

Cole, the Pirates' top pitching prospect, retired seven straight to start the game and didn't allow a hit until Ryan Flaherty hit a two-run homer to right field in the third. The 22-year-old Cole allowed just one more hit, striking out two over four innings in his fourth spring appearance.

Orioles closer Jim Johnson tossed a scoreless third in his first Grapefruit League outing, with Darren O'Day and Mark Hendrickson adding an inning apiece.

Mark Melancon had a 1-2-3 fifth for Pittsburgh, while Baltimore backup catcher Taylor Teagarden -- who has been sidelined with lower back discomfort -- entered the game in the seventh.

Up next: Lefty Jeff Locke makes his team-high fourth start when the Pirates and Orioles hook up again, this time at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, on Monday at 1:05 p.m. ET on Gameday Audio. But of greater interest will be what follows the spring's fourth game between the teams, as manager Clint Hurdle will meet with his staff to discuss the first cuts from among the 62 players in the Bucs' big league camp.

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli.

Pittsburgh Pirates