The Pittsburgh Pirates collected their 28th one-run victory Thursday as they defeated Miami 2-1 at Marlins Park. Clint Hurdle‘s squad is 24-9 against National League East teams this season.
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The Pirates (77-49) took three out of four in the series against Miami. Pittsburgh is 17-7 this month with three contests left to play. They are on a roll as they have won 12 of their last 15 match-ups.
Gerrit Cole (15-7) collected his first victory since Sunday, July 26. He was 0-3 with a 3.60 ERA this month. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound right-hander permitted only one earned run on five hits over seven 1/3 innings. He struck out four and walked none. The 24-year-old Cole hurled 63 of his 95 pitches for strikes in battling 27 batters.
Cole told Adam Berry and Steve Wilaj of MLB.com after the game, “I feel like we’re playing well. I feel strong, executing pitches. We’re playing good ball together as a unit. Hopefully we can keep moving forward.”
The bullpen came through again for the crew of the Jolly Roger when southpaw Tony Watson wrapped up the eighth for Cole as he struck out one and did not give up a hit. Mark Melancon picked up his 41st save in the bottom of the ninth. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound right-hander delivered 11 of his 16 pitches for strikes in taking on three hitters.
Francisco Cervelli led off the second with his fifth triple of the season. With one out, Neil Walker put the Pirates up 1-0 with his sacrifice fly to right that scored Cervelli. Since the beginning of the 2010 campaign, Walker ranks third in the Majors with 398 RBI as a second baseman, trailing behind Robinson Cano with 549 and Brandon Phillips with 419.
Pedro Alvarez had the Pirates fans in South Florida buzzing in the bottom of the fourth when he belted his 21st home run of the season 437-feet to center. The first baseman has seen 18 of his 21 home runs be solo shots this season.
Justin Nicolino (2-2) had a decent outing as he surrendered just six hits and two earned runs in six innings for the Marlins. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound left-hander hurled 59 of his 96 pitches for strikes in dueling with 26 Bucs at the plate. The 23-year-old Nicolino struck out only one and walked four.
The only offense for Miami came in the bottom of the seventh. With one out and Martin Prado on third, Derek Dietrich hit a sacrifice fly to center to drive in Prado. The Marlins went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and left a total of seven on base.
There was a some controversy in the bottom of the third. Home-plate umpire Alan Porter threw Cervelli out of the contest for arguing about balls and strikes. Chris Stewart came in to handle the catching chores for the rest of the evening.
Up Next: The Pirates return to the North Shore Friday to open a three-game weekend series against the Colorado Rockies. The Rocky Mountain Boys will hand the ball to 23-year-old Jon Gray (0-0, 5.94 ERA/1.38 WHIP). The 6-foot-4, 235-pound right-hander has struck out 14 over 16.2 innings pitched.
The Pirates will counter with 31-year-old Francisco Liriano (9-6, 3.23 ERA/1.16 WHIP). The 6-foot-2, 225-pound left-hander has recorded 159 strike outs over 147.2 innings pitched. The first pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. and it will be on ROOT Sports Pittsburgh.
From The Clipboard: The game lasted 2:46 and there were 19,950 in attendance at Marlins Park…The Bucs were 64-62 after 126 games last season…Coming into Thursday’s match-up, Andrew McCutchen has a Major League leading .394 average overall this season with runners in scoring position…The Pirates are 51-23 when they hit a home run during the game…Friday’s match-up with the Rockies is the first meeting between the two squads this season.