The Pittsburgh Pirates weathered a rough start by righthander Gerrit Cole on Friday night to rally back and down the Milwaukee Brewers 10-3 to take the opener of their three-game series in front of a sellout crowd at PNC Park. It was the Bucs’ season-high seventh win in a row.
Clint Hurdle’s crew picked up their 49th win – the most in Major League Baseball – and grabbed solo first place in the National League Central lead after the Cardinals lost in Oakland late Friday. The Pirates this season have gone 9-0 after scheduled off-days.
Starling Marte scored two runs as he went 3 for 4 and collected two RBIs. He was a home run short of hitting for the cycle. Andrew McCutchen went 3 for 5 – including a homer – and had three RBIs. Pedro Alvarez added two hits on the evening to extend his hitting streak to 11 games.
Cole improved his record to 4-0 despite giving up three runs in the first inning. The young starter made it through six innings, giving up eight hits, with three walks and three strikeouts. The last Pittsburgh pitcher to go 4-0 in his first four starts was Nick Maddox back in 1907.
Rookie righty Ryan Reid came in from the bullpen at the top of the seventh and finished the game to pick up his first save of the season. He struck out four and gave up only two hits in his three innings of work.
The major-league debut of Milwaukee starter Johnny Hellweg was not one he will want to remember as he did not make it out of the second inning. The righthander gave up seven runs – five of them earned – in 1 2/3 innings of work. He gave up six hits to go along with two walks and one strikeout.
Pittsburgh erupted in the bottom of the second to take the lead in the ballgame. Neil Walker’s double to center field scored Garrett Jones and Alvarez with no outs. Starling Marte’s single to right scored Walker with one out.
Russell Martin grounded into a fielder’s choice that pushed Cole and Travis Snider across the plate on shortstop Jean Segura’s fielding error, which allowed the ball to skip into the outfield. Still with just one out, McCutchen’s infield single brought Marte home. Finally, with two out, Alvarez singled to left field to score Martin.
The Bucs added a run in the bottom of the third when with two out, Marte doubled to left field to score Cole. Another insurance run came in the bottom of the sixth as McCutchen doubled to score Marte with one out. In the bottom of the eighth, McCutchen hit his ninth home run of the season, a solo shot to left center field to make the score 10-3.
The Brewers gave Cole a workout in the top of the first. With the bases loaded, Aramis Ramirez was hit by a pitch, which scored Norichika Aoki. Jonathan Lucroy grounded into a double play that pushed Segura across the plate. With two out, Juan Francisco singled to left field to score Carlos Gomez and make the score 3-0 in favor of Milwaukee.
The game was played before a crowd of 36,875, the Pirates’ fourth consecutive sellout at PNC Park.
The second game of the three-game series is set for 7:15 p.m. Saturday. The Brewers (32-46) will send righthander Donovan Hand (0-0, 2.50 ERA) to the mound while the Pirates will counter with lefthander Francisco Liriano (6-3, 2.30 ERA). Liriano has given up only two home runs this season. The game will be broadcast on Fox.
From The Clipboard: Pittsburgh optioned catcher Tony Sanchez back to Triple-A Indianapolis on Friday and recalled infielder Josh Harrison. It is Harrison’s fourth stint with the Bucs this season…Snider left the game after six innings with a bruised right foot…The Pirates will be represented by outfielder Gregory Polanco and infielder Dilson Herrera at Major League Baseball’s Futures Game during All-Star festivities on Sunday, July 14 at Citi Field in New York. Both players will be part of the World team…Lefthander Jeff Locke lost his first outing of the season on April 7 against the Los Angeles Dodgers, but has not dropped a decision in his next 15 starts. The only other Bucs pitcher to make 15 consecutive starts in a season without losing was Dock Ellis back in 1971.