Cole, Pirates eye sweep of Marlins

( - Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitchers have been the catalyst to this five-game winning streak and Gerrit Cole looks to keep it going Wednesday versus the Miami Marlins at PNC Park.

Cole and the Pirates go after a second straight three-game sweep after taking all three meetings with the New York Mets this weekend and the first two tests with the Marlins.

The right-handed Cole struck out 10 batters, walked one and allowed an unearned run in 8 1/3 innings of a 4-1 victory over the Mets on Friday. He is one of the brightest young arms in the majors and has a 6-2 record in nine starts to go along with a 2.05 earned run average.

Cole has won two of three trips to the mound and has allowed more than two runs in an outing just twice this season. He is 3-1 with a 1.78 ERA in four home starts, but winless (0-1) with a 5.25 ERA in two career starts against the Marlins.

Jeff Locke didn't have much trouble with the Marlins in Tuesday's 5-1 win despite walking four batters. Locke struck out six and gave up four hits over 5 2/3 scoreless innings for the win.

"I think everybody's goal is to come out and respectfully outdo one another," Lock said in reference to the rotation.

Pittsburgh is second in the majors with a 3.04 earned run average, while Locke joined Cole, A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano and Charlie Morton in the victory column during this run.

Neil Walker hit a two-run homer during a three-run second inning and both Josh Harrison and Jung-Ho Kang finished with two hits and an RBI. Harrison also scored twice for the Pirates, who are 5-2 on an eight-game homestand and will play the next 10 games on the road against San Diego, San Francisco and Atlanta.

The Buccos are 14-9 at PNC Park this season and 17-5 in the last 22 home matchups with teams from the NL East.

Miami hails from that division and fell to 8-14 away from home.

Jose Urena made his first career start for the Marlins and was touched for five runs and 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings. That was all the run support a countering Locke would need for the Pirates.

The Marlins' bullpen held the hosts off the board the rest of the way.

"The bullpen did a great job. Three and one-third innings, no walks, four punchouts," said Marlins manager Dan Jennings.

Martin Prado had the lone RBI for Miami, losers in 13 of 16 games. Prado is riding a nine-game hitting streak and has hit in 11 straight games against the Pirates.

Miami will visit the Mets for three games this weekend and hopes Brad Hand can salvage this Steel City set Wednesday afternoon. Much like Urena, Hand is filling in for a banged-up rotation and has an 0-1 record with a 5.48 earned run average in 14 relief appearances this season.

Hand competed in 32 games last season, making 16 starts, and went 3-8 with a 4.38 ERA. The left-hander made one career start against the Pirates and allowed two runs in 6 1/3 innings for a no-decision.

The Pirates went 4-2 against the Marlins last season and will visit south Florida for four games in August.