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Josh Bell drives in 3 as Pittsburgh Pirates top Philadelphia Phillies

By
Josh Verlin, The Sports Xchange
Josh Bell of the Pittsburgh Pirates is greeted in the dugout after scoring a run. Photo by David Tulis/UPI
Josh Bell of the Pittsburgh Pirates is greeted in the dugout after scoring a run. Photo by David Tulis/UPI | License Photo

PHILADELPHIA -- Josh Bell hit a two-run homer and drove in the eventual game-winning RBI to help the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 6-3 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Thursday night.

The Pirates' first baseman put his team up 2-1 in the fourth inning with a two-run shot to left, his 16th of the season and part of a three-run frame that for a while was his team's only offensive output.

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After the Phillies (28-56) tied it 3-3 in the seventh inning, Bell came up big again. He laced a one-out double down the right-field line in the eighth inning to score center fielder Andrew McCutchen and put the Pirates back on top for good.

Gregory Polanco, who hit a solo home run in the fourth, and Elias Diaz followed later in the eighth with RBI doubles to chase Joaquin Benoit (1-3), who took the loss by giving up three runs on four hits in two-thirds of an inning.

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The victory was the third in a row for Pittsburgh (40-46) to close out the four-game series.

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Chad Kuhl (3-6) picked up the win with seven strong innings. Juan Nicasio picked up his first save since 2015 with a 1-2-3 ninth.

Bell (2-for-5, three RBIs, two runs), Polanco (4-for-4, two RBIs, two runs) and McCutchen (3-for-4, two runs, walk) accounted for almost all of the Pirates' offense. The rest of the Pittsburgh lineup totaled two hits and a walk.

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Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson settled down after the two home runs, retiring the last eight batters he faced before departing for a pinch hitter after six innings. He threw just 77 pitches, 50 for strikes, striking out four while allowing three runs and five hits.

That still wasn't enough to avoid running his streak of winless outings to nine (0-4), though he avoided taking the loss thanks to a two-RBI single by Aaron Altherr in the seventh to make it 3-3.

Altherr's hit was the only major blemish in what was otherwise a second consecutive strong outing by Kuhl. The right-hander went seven innings for the first time this season, giving up three runs (two earned) and six hits while walking three and striking out three.

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In Kuhl's last two starts, he's given up four runs (three earned) in 13 innings.

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Bell's clutch hits certainly helped make up for a costly error he was partially responsible for in the third.

Diaz tried to pick off the Phillies' Andrew Knapp at first base after a swing-and-miss by Andres Blanco. But with Bell distracted by Blanco's bat heading into the stands, the ball whizzed right by him and down the first-base line, allowing Knapp to get around all three bases and score.

NOTES: The game was delayed 47 minutes because of rain. ... Pirates LF Jose Osuna threw out a pair of Phillies runners trying to stretch singles into doubles on back-to-back plays in the second inning, and threw out a third in the seventh. ... Philadelphia begins a three-game series at home against San Diego on Friday. The Phillies send RHP Nick Pivetta (2-4, 4.85 ERA) against Padres LHP Clayton Richard (5-8, 4.85). ... The Pirates will travel to Chicago to start a three-game series Friday afternoon. Pittsburgh RHP Trevor Williams (3-3, 4.67 ERA) goes against Cubs RHP Eddie Butler (4-3, 4.18 ERA).

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