LOS ANGELES -- A trip to the West Coast provided the Pittsburgh Pirates with both a tonic and a scouting report.
Pittsburgh has won five of its six games against the Dodgers, including the past two, with Saturday night's win ending a four-game losing streak. If both teams qualify for the National League playoffs, they could meet in the Championship Series.
"If we get to play them, it'll be a good thing," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We believe we can match up with anybody, regardless of record. But experience does help. We know their personnel better. We've seen them fresh. We've seen them late."
The Pirates increased their lead over the Chicago Cubs in the National League's wild-card race to two games while staying within four games of the first-place St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central. The Dodgers' magic number to secure their third consecutive National League West championship remains seven games.
Right-hander Gerrit Cole (17-8) retired 14 of 15 batters from the second through the seventh innings, including 11 in succession, with a fastball that reached 98 mph. In seven innings, Cole conceded six hits, three runs and no walks while amassing nine strikeouts, one less than his season high.
"His stuff is really good," Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly said. "He gets the ball on both sides of the plate. His change-up and slider are coming at you at the back door, at times."
Hurdle expressed enthusiasm about Cole's performance.
"He had no walks with six three-ball counts, which is impressive," Hurdle said. "The fastball had life. It had finish. He's got a third gear he can go to. What got him through seven was some grit, some determination and a major-league fastball."
Left-hander Tony Watson and right-hander Mark Melancon each pitched a perfect inning in relief, with Melancon earning his 48th save, the most in the major leagues.
The Dodgers held a 2-1 lead when the Pirates used solo homers to move ahead 3-2. In the top of the third inning, Marte propelled an 81 mph curveball from right-hander Mike Bolsinger halfway up the left-field bleachers for his 17th home run of the season. Alvarez followed suit in the fourth with his 25th of the season into the right-field stands, courtesy of Bolsinger's 80 mph curve.
Pittsburgh added a run in the fifth to build a 4-2 advantage. Right fielder Gregory Polanco bunted for a single, took second when Marte grounded out and scored on third baseman Aramis Ramirez's single. Los Angeles narrowed the deficit to 4-2 in the seventh on first baseman Scott Van Slyke's solo homer, his sixth of the season.
Bolsinger (6-4) allowed five hits, including two home runs, three walks and three earned runs in 4 1/3 innings. The right-hander also induced seven groundouts, including a double play, and finished with four strikeouts.
The Dodgers took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Left fielder Carl Crawford began by hitting a triple off the base of the fence down the right-field line. Cole struck out second baseman Chase Utley and shortstop Corey Seager, but right fielder Andre Ethier lined a single to center field that scored Crawford.
The Pirates responded with an unearned run in the top of the second. With catcher Francisco Cervelli at second base with two outs, Cole hit a line drive off Bolsinger's glove. Bolsinger retrieved the ball but his underhanded throw got past Van Slyke. With Cervelli rounding third base, Van Slyke's throw to the plate sailed over catcher Yasmani Grandal.
The Dodgers assumed their 2-1 lead in the bottom of the second. Center fielder Joc Pederson lined a single down the right-field line, stole second base and came home on third baseman Alex Guerrero's single down the left-field line.
NOTES: Pittsburgh RHP Mark Melancon set a team record for saves in one season Saturday night. Melancon recorded his 47th save, surpassing Mike Williams' standard of 46 set in 2002. ... Pirates 3B Aramis Ramirez and SS Jordy Mercer started at their respective positions for the third straight game since INF Jung Ho Kang suffered a broken leg Thursday. Kang played 77 games at shortstop and 60 at third base before the injury. ... Los Angeles 3B Justin Turner did not make Sunday's lineup. Turner left Saturday night's game in the seventh inning with a sore left knee. 3B Alex Guerrero made his 15th start of the season at the position Sunday... Dodgers 1B Scott Van Slyke returned to the starting lineup after missing three games because of a cyst on his right wrist. Van Slyke replaced 1B Adrian Gonzalez, who experienced some back stiffness after Saturday night's game.