ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Pittsburgh Pirates have a winning record for the first time since mid-April, while the Tampa Bay Rays retained the worst record in the majors for the 21st straight day.
Pittsburgh left-hander Jeff Locke stifled the Rays for seven innings and the Pirates outfield again did most of the offensive damage as Pittsburgh beat the Rays 6-5 on Tuesday at Tropicana Field.
The victory assured Pittsburgh a fifth consecutive road series win. The Pirates (39-38) last had a winning record on April 15, when they were 7-6.
Pittsburgh has won four consecutive games, while the Rays (31-48) lost the first two games of the three-game set.
Pittsburgh lead-off hitter and right fielder Gregory Polanco went 1-for-2 with a run and a stolen base. No. 2 hitter and left fielder Starling Marte was 1-for-3 with a run and an RBI, and center fielder and third hitter Andrew McCutchen knocked in two runs. In their first 10 games together occupying the first three spots in the lineup, they are a combined 46-for-134 (.343), with six doubles, two home runs, 22 RBIs and 24 runs.
However, Marte was forced to leave the game in the fifth inning complaining of concussion-like symptoms after a collision at second base.
Rays starter Chris Archer fell to 4-5 after allowing five runs (four earned) on seven hits and two walks with four strikeouts.
Locke -- who has lost three decisions on blown saves -- was removed in the eighth after allowing a two-run homer to third baseman Evan Longoria that cut the lead to 6-3. He allowed three earned runs on eight hits and two walks with four strikeouts to improve to 1-1.
Reliever Mark Melancon had a troublesome ninth inning, allowing three hits and two runs, but eventually wrapped things up for Locke, recording his 13th save. Left fielder Brandon Guyer pulled the Rays within 6-5 with a two-run single, but Melancon retired Longoria to end the game.
Pittsburgh took a 1-0 lead in the first as rookie Polanco turned a leadoff walk into a quick score. Polanco stole his third base of the season -- and second of the series -- and continued through to third when catcher Jose Molina's throw sailed into center field. McCutchen scored him from third with a groundout against Archer.
The Pirates added three more in the third to lead 4-0 on RBIs by Marte, McCutchen and second baseman Neil Walker, who was playing his first game since undergoing an appendectomy in early June.
Third baseman Pedro Alvarez led off with a walk and took second on a single by shortstop Jordy Mercer before Polanco advanced both with a bunt. Marte shot the next pitch he saw to right field for a 2-0 lead. McCutchen improved the lead to 3-0 with a single to right, scoring Mercer, and Walker finished the scoring a sacrifice fly to bring in Marte.
The Pirates lost Marte at least for the game when he slid headfirst into the knee of shortstop Yunel Escobar while being thrown out on a fifth-inning steal attempt. Marte remained down but conscious for a few moments before walking off the field with assistance from a trainer.
Tampa Bay scored a fluke run in the bottom of the fifth to trail 4-1. Polanco misplayed a two-out Logan Forsythe fly ball into a triple, and Molina followed with a double off Locke.
NOTES: Pittsburgh activated 2B Neil Walker (appendectomy) from the 15-day disabled list and optioned OF Jose Tabata to Triple-A Indianapolis. ... Rays C Ryan Hanigan was scratched after the original lineup was posted because of a stiff neck. He was replaced by Jose Molina. ... Pittsburgh OF Josh Bell (.335, nine homers, 17 doubles for Class A Bradenton) and Rays C Justin O'Conner (.261 at Class A Charlotte) and LHP Enny Romero (Triple-A Durham) were selected to play in the Futures Game prospect showcase as part of MLB All-Star Game preliminaries.