Despite striking out only three in his eight-inning start, Jhoulys Chacin kept the Pittsburgh Pirates’ bats quiet in the Colorado Rockies’ 4-2 win Friday night at PNC Park.
The righthanded Chacin was incredibly efficient (96 pitches) and under control (70 strikes) in limiting first-place Pittsburgh (65-54) to six hits, five of them singles. The Pirates got three of those hits in the third inning, when they plated their only run against Chacin to tie the game.
But the Rockies (52-59) struck back with three runs in the sixth to chase Bucs rookie starter Gerrit Cole. Troy Tulowitzki, who earlier smacked a solo homer to left field, chopped an RBI infield single, followed by Todd Helton’s two-run base hit up the middle against reliever Justin Wilson.
Helton’s special night – it was the 16th anniversary of his MLB debut, also in Pittsburgh – turned into a win against his former manager Clint Hurdle following a messy ninth. After the Rockies squandered a second-and-third, no-out situation, the Pirates got a run against reliever Rex Brothers when Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez ripped back-to-back doubles.
However, Russell Martin flied out to deep center and Gaby Sanchez lined out to right to send Pittsburgh to its second straight loss. The Pirates are 8-6 since the all-star break, highlighted by a four-game winning streak against St. Louis this week that pushed them into first in the National League Central.
The Cardinals won their second in a row Friday, pulling them within 1/2 game of the Pirates for the top spot. Pittsburgh needs to get its offense back in gear Saturday after scoring just two runs in the past 18 innings.
Starling Marte, Neil Walker and McCutchen laced consecutive hits in Friday’s third inning to answer Tulowitzki’s bomb off Cole in the second. Chacin escaped further damage when Alvarez grounded into a double play, one of three twin killings induced by the Rockies starter. (Garrett Jones hit into the other two.)
Cole fanned six in his 10th MLB start, tossing a career-high 102 pitches while allowing three hits. The 22-year-old walked two as his ERA rose to 3.69.
The Pirates will seek their fifth win of the homestand Saturday night at 7:05. Pittsburgh ace Francisco Liriano (2.16 ERA) is scheduled to throw against Colorado’s Jorge De La Rosa (3.21).