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The Pirates got an RBI single from Pedro Alvarez in the fifth and closed within a run in the sixth.
Gaby Sanchez singled home a run and Alvarez had an RBI grounder, but Pittsburgh left the bases loaded when James Russell struck out pinch-hitter Neil Walker.
On Aug. 8, the Pirates were 63-47, but have gone 9-24 since. They are now just a game over .500 for the first time since June 15 when they were 32-31. Pittsburgh hasn't finished with a winning record since 1992.
NOTES: Cubs' first-round draft pick Albert Almora took batting practice with the team at Wrigley Field prior to the game. He will report to the instructional league on Monday. ... Alvarez (sore wrist) returned to the lineup after missing Wednesday's game. Walker (lower back tightness) did not start for the 16th consecutive game. ... Jason Berkan makes his Cubs debut Saturday against Wandy Rodriguez (10-13, 3.72).
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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