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Cole, Pirates go for series win vs. Nats

(SportsNetwork.com) - Gerrit Cole tries to remain unbeaten at home this season when the Pittsburgh Pirates entertain the Washington Nationals Saturday for the third portion of a four-game series.

The 23-year-old right-hander is 2-0 with a 3.21 ERA in four starts at PNC Park this season. He's coming off a win at Yankee Stadium on Sunday in the second contest of a doubleheader. Cole won his only career start against the Nationals, having allowed one run on two hits in seven innings on July 23, 2013.

Stephen Strasburg, who has yet to win on the road (0-2) in four starts this season, counters for the Nationals. The righty didn't factor in the decision of Monday's 15-inning home loss to Cincinnati. Strasburg threw seven innings in that contest.

In four starts against the Pirates, Strasburg is 2-1 with a 2.57 ERA.

This marks the first time since 2005 that a National League game will have the top overall pick in a draft facing each other. Strasburg was the top pick in 2009 and Cole went No. 1 in 2011. It was on May 16, 2005 when the Mets' Kris Benson tangled with Cincinnati's Paul Wilson.

A win tonight would give the Pirates a 4-0-1 mark in their last five series played at PNC Park.

Last night, Pedro Alvarez's two-run homer helped power the Pirates to a 4-3 win. Ike Davis added two hits and scored a pair of runs, while Starling Marte chipped in an RBI for the Pirates, winners of three straight.

Charlie Morton (1-6) allowed just one run on five hits and four walks over 5 2/3 innings to pick up his first win since Sept. 2 at Milwaukee.

"He (Morton) just went out there and used what he had. It was a good effort by Charlie," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, who secured the 800th win of his career.

After coming off the 15-day disabled list prior to the game, Jason Grilli stranded a leadoff walk in the ninth to secure his fifth save of the season.

Jordan Zimmermann (3-2) yielded four runs on seven hits and two walks while fanning four in six innings to absorb the loss on his 28th birthday.

Greg Dobbs and Scott Hairston each recorded an RBI for Washington, which has scored just five runs during its current three-game skid.

"They scored one more than we did so that's all we can look at right now other than trying to get them tomorrow," Washington manager Matt Williams said.

The Pirates won four of seven over the Nationals last season.