The Pittsburgh Pirates got a solid six innings out of Gerrit Cole on the mound and downed the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-2 in the first game of their three-game weekend series Friday night at sold-out PNC Park.
Pedro Alvarez and Jose Tabata drove in two runs apiece, while Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen knocked in runs as well. The first-place Bucs have won six straight at home and Friday night’s victory improved their record to 72-49. Clint Hurdle’s crew has a three-game lead on both the St. Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Central.
Cole, on eight days rest, picked up his sixth win of the season. The young righthander gave up two earned runs on five hits, struck out five and walked only two on 98 pitches. Cole has now pitched 140 innings between the major leagues and minor leagues this season.
Jeanmar Gomez came on strong out of the bullpen to pitch the seventh and eighth innings. The righthander did not give up a hit or run on 23 pitches and struck out three. Mark Melancon sealed the deal by not allowing a hit or run on 15 pitches in the ninth.
Alvarez got the offense rolling for the Bucs in the bottom of the third when with two out, he singled to center field that pushed Walker and McCutchen across the plate.
Pittsburgh secured the victory with two more runs in the bottom of the fifth. With one out, Walker doubled to right-center field to score Starling Marte from first. McCutchen got in on the action with a single to center field that scored Walker.
The Pirates added some insurance in the bottom of the eighth as Tabata blasted a two-out, two-run home run to right field that scored Gaby Sanchez. It was Tabata’s fourth homer of the season.
Arizona starter Brendon McCarthy saw his record drop to 2-7 for the D-Backs. The righthander gave up four earned runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings of work. McCarthy struck out five and walked three on 100 pitches.
The Diamondbacks got on the scoreboard in the top of fifth when with one out Martin Prado singled to center field to plate Paul Goldschmidt. A.J. Pollock added one more run with his single to center field which scored Aaron Hill with two outs.
There was a sellout crowd of 39,091 at PNC Park on Friday night. The Pirates have now posted 13 sellouts this season. A season-high 39,173 fans came out on July 13 against the New York Mets.
The second game of the three-game series with Arizona will be at 4:05 p.m. Saturday. The Diamondbacks (62-58) will send righthander Trevor Cahill (3-10, 4.66 ERA) to the hill while the Pirates will counter with lefthander Jeff Locke (9-3, 2.43 ERA).
The 25-year-old will be making his 24th start of the season on Saturday; he has allowed two earned runs or less in 16 of his 23 outings. The game will be broadcast nationally on FOX.
From The Clipboard: McCutchen is only one home run shy of 100 in his career…The Pirates are 42-25 at home this season, which is the second-best record in the major leagues, trailing only the Atlanta Braves…Marte leads all National League leadoff hitters in hits with 130…Walker has hit safely in 15 of his last 19 games.