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Chicago, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - Pedro Alvarez and Travis Snider homered in a 
five-run  seventh inning and the Pittsburgh Pirates held on for a 5-4 win over 
the Chicago Cubs on Thursday afternoon. 

The Cubs loaded the bases against Jason Grilli in the ninth inning but didn't 
score,  giving  the Pirates three straight  series wins to open the season for 
the first time in 22 years. 

Alvarez's  three-run  homer off  James Russell (0-1)  gave Pittsburgh the lead 
after  Snider's  pinch-hit two-run blast got  them on the board earlier in the 

Right-hander  Gerrit Cole (2-0) picked up his sixth straight win going back to 
last  season  after striking out  10 in  six innings. He  gave up four runs -- 
three earned -- on five hits and two walks. 

"I  pitched OK. Fortunately  we played a great game as a team," said Cole. "In 
those  kind of  games you have to keep  grinding and try to give your teams as 
many innings as you can and try to outlast the other guy." 

The  Pirates improved to 6-3 this season -- all against NL Central teams. They 
have  taken two series  against the Cubs and one against St. Louis -- only the 
fourth time in the last 49 seasons they have won their first three (1966, 1976 
and 1992 were the others). 

Starlin  Castro had three hits, including an RBI single, and scored a run on a 
controversial  play at  the plate that gave  the Cubs a 4-0 lead in the fourth 

Castro's last hit, a single in the ninth, came after Ryan Sweeney led off with 
a  walk. Grilli  struck out pinch-hitter Luis Valbuena and Welington Castillo, 
then walked Darwin Barney to load the bases, but Emilio Bonifacio grounded out 
to end the game and give Grilli his third save of the season. 

"We  kept  battling," said Cubs manager  Rick Renteria. "We fell short. ... At 
the end of the day we want better results." 

Cubs  left-hander  Travis Wood was pulled  after giving up a leadoff single to 
Neil Walker in the seventh. 

Wood struck out nine, gave up three walks and four hits and was charged with a 
run  when  Snider belted Brian  Schlitter's eighth pitch over the center-field 
wall to get Pittsburgh on the board. 

Schlitter  gave  up a  single to  Starling Marte  and walked Andrew McCutchen, 
who  both  scored on  Alvarez's fifth  homer of  the season  with two outs off 

"We've  played some  tough games against them so far this year," said Alvarez. 
"Any time we come back, especially down so many runs, it's a huge plus for the 
morale and for the team." 

Earlier, Bonifacio scored all the way from first base in the third inning when 
he  stole second and kept running after Pirates catcher Tony Sanchez threw the 
ball into the outfield. 

A  three-run fourth inning ignited by consecutive singles by Anthony Rizzo and 
Nate  Schierholtz extended  the Cubs' lead to 4-0. Castro knocked in the first 
run  with a  single, Schierholtz scored on  a wild pitch and Castillo drove in 
Castro with a hit to left field. 

Marte's two-hop throw arrived in time and Sanchez appeared to apply the tag in 
time to the Castro's left foot. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle came out to argue 
the call, which wasn't reviewed. 

                                   Game Notes 

The pitching staffs combined to strike out 28 batters ... The Pirates continue 
a  nine-game road trip Friday in Milwaukee ... The Cubs start a five-game road 
trip Friday in St. Louis. 

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