Alvarez’ 3-run homer seals the deal for Pittsburgh

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AP

CHICAGO — Pedro Alvarez hit a three-run homer to cap a five-run seventh inning and Jason Grilli retired Emilio Bonifacio on a bases-loaded grounder to end the game, giving the Pittsburgh Pirates a 5-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Thursday.

The Pirates trailed 4-0 heading into the seventh, but two big drives changed things.

Pinch hitter Travis Snider cut the deficit in half with a two-run homer off Brian Schlitter. Alvarez put Pittsburgh ahead with his three-run drive against James Russell (0-1), his third homer in two games.

Chicago threatened in the bottom of the ninth before Grilli retired Bonifacio on a grounder to first. The Pirates took two of three at Wrigley Field.

That gave the Pirates their third series win — the most for them to start the season since the 1992 team took its first six.

Gerrit Cole (2-0) struck out 10 in six innings. He also allowed four runs, three of them earned.

Tony Watson worked a perfect seventh. Mark Melancon retired the side in the eighth before things got tense against Grilli in the ninth.

Nationals 7, Marlins 1 Stephen Strasburg struck out 12 in 6 2-3 innings on a day Washington really needed to rest its relievers, and Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond homered, leading the Nationals past Miami for a three-game sweep.

Strasburg (1-1) got 14 consecutive outs in one stretch and allowed only three hits, including Marcell Ozuna’s homer in the seventh. The right-hander’s lone walk was to the last batter he faced.

Washington’s starter Wednesday, Jordan Zimmermann, left after a career-low 1 2-3 innings, leaving the bullpen “taxed,” as manager Matt Williams put it. The Nationals won that game 10-7 on Werth’s go-ahead grand slam in the eighth, and this time he connected in the third — a two-run shot off Tom Koehler (1-1) that put Washington ahead 2-0.

Brewers 6, Phillies 2 Carlos Gomez had three hits with an RBI and Milwaukee extended its winning to six games with a victory over Philadelphia.

The Brewers’ wins have all come on the road during the streak. They came to Philadelphia following a three-game sweep at defending World Series champion Boston.

They battered the Phillies with 25 runs and 38 hits in the three-game sweep. Milwaukee has batted .320 and has outscored opponents 42-18 during the streak.