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PITTSBURGH (AP) — The way Dinelson Lamet tinkers with his slider — throwing it hard and soft, inside and outside, high and low — Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle thinks at times it looks like the San Diego Padres rookie is throwing a wiffle ball.
At least when Lamet is throwing it at the Pirates. Lamet allowed just one hit over 5 2/3 innings in a 5-2 victory over Pittsburgh on Saturday night, his second win against the Pirates in a week.
Lamet (6-4) surrendered two runs on two hits in San Diego last weekend. He was even sharper on the other side of the country, striking out five against three walks and keeping Pittsburgh guessing about when and where his slider was going.
"If guys are on the fastball I feel like I can come after them with that pitch," Lamet said.
Over and over and over.
"Picked up where he left off with his slider, mixed it in random counts, kept us off balance here and there," Pittsburgh second baseman Josh Harrison said. "That's the name of the game, throwing off hitter's timing and he made some pitches."
Wil Myers broke out of an 0-for-16 slide by hitting his 21st homer of the season off Gerrit Cole (9-8) and drove in three runs. Rookie Dusty Coleman went 3 for 4 with his third home run in just nine games since being called up from Triple-A. Brad Hand worked a perfect ninth for his eighth save.
"We're a team that has a lot of fight in us," Myers said. "A lot of guys are trying to prove themselves. We're sort of underdogs and the guys play with a chip on their shoulder."
Myers has spent extra time in the batting cage trying to find a way out of his funk. He may have discovered something against Cole. He doubled home Cory Spangenberg in the third to give San Diego the lead then hit a rocket to the bushes in centerfield with one on in the fifth to make it 3-0.
"I've been working on things a little different in the cage," Myers said. "I felt some of that click tonight."
Harrison hit a solo home run in the seventh and Adam Frazier added an RBI single but couldn't stop the Pirates from falling 5 1/2 games behind first-place Chicago in the NL Central.
Pittsburgh's attempts to keep pace in the division have been hit with a series of problems, namely a penchant for struggling against losing teams. The Pirates are now 3-7 in their last 10 games, all against teams at least 10 games under .500.
Cole came in 4-1 with a 1.47 ERA in five career starts against San Diego but lacked the efficiency that keyed his 6-1 surge since June 13. Cole never retired San Diego in order during his six innings of work, giving up three runs on eight hits, walking two and striking out five while needing 102 pitches to get 18 outs.
"They're really aggressive and they're pretty good hitters," Cole said. "So I thought it was good work (by them) tonight."
Lamet's left after consecutive two out walks in the sixth but reliever Phil Maton got Bell to fly out to right to end the threat. Pittsburgh drew within 3-2 in the seventh, but third base coach Joey Cora opted to hold David Freese at third on Frazier's run-scoring single to left rather than test Spangenberg's arm. Hurdle said Freese was forced to redirect his path to make sure he didn't collide with diving San Diego third baseman Yangervis Solarte, forcing Cora to throw up the stop sign.
Craig Stammen came on to face Andrew McCutchen, who popped out to first base to end the threat.
When Coleman ripped a pitch from Daniel Hudson over the wall in center for a two-run homer, San Diego's three-run cushion was restored.
Padres: C Hector Sanchez took a foul ball off the mask in the bottom of the third. Sanchez was tended to by trainers and finished the inning before being pulled and replaced by Luis Torrens. ... X-rays on OF Matt Szczur's right forearm were negative a day after Pirates reliever Juan Nicasio hit him with a pitch in the eighth inning of a 10-6 Pittsburgh victory.
Pirates: Cervelli was struck in the hand by Solarte's bat in the seventh. The catcher was checked out by trainer Todd Tomczyk but stayed in.
Padres: Clayton Richard (5-12, 5.40 ERA), winless since June 13, takes the hill in the series finale. Richard allowed four runs in six innings in a loss to Pittsburgh last Sunday.
Pirates: Jameson Taillon (6-5, 4.74) will to snap a two-game losing streak. Taillon has allowed 17 earned runs in his last 6 2/3 innings.
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