The Pittsburgh Pirates were in desperate need of a strong pitching performance following their 11-10 extra inning loss to the San Francisco Giants on Monday night. Charlie Morton turned in a strong start last night, and Gerrit Cole held off the Giants this afternoon, leading the Pirates to a 4-3 victory at PNC Park.
Cole was solid today, giving up three runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts and one walk in eight innings of work. Mark Melancon came in and set the Giants down in order in the ninth inning to earn his second save of the season.
Pittsburgh tallied twelve hits as a team, including three from Ike Davis, and two from Travis Snider, Andrew McCutchen, and Chris Stewart. From a pitching standpoint, the past two games are the type of performance we had seen in 2013. The Pirates had starters go at least eight innings in back-to-back games for the first time since 2007.
The Giants and Pirates scored as many runs in the first inning today as they did throughout the entire game yesterday. Brandon Belt gave the Giants the lead with a solo homerun off Cole, but the Bucs answered in the bottom half of the inning with two runs of their own. McCutchen’s RBI single scored Snider, who led off the game with a four-pitch walk. Starling Marte later doubled home Cutch, giving the Bucs a 2-1 lead.
Pittsburgh added two more runs in the second inning a two-run single by Snider. Stewart and Cole hit back-to-singles to set the table for the top of the order off Tim Lincecum. The Giants had a good opportunity to cut into the lead in the top of the fourth, but with runners on second and third and only one out, Cole worked his way out of the jam, inducing a pop out and a line out to end the threat.
Cole wasn’t so fortunate in the fifth inning, however. Pablo Sandoval hit for Lincecum and smacked a one-out single, later advancing on a two-out walk by Hunter Pence. Belt then stepped to the plate and hit a two-run double, scoring Pence and Sandoval. Though Belt was thrown out trying to advance to third, he still brought the Giants to a single run, 4-3.
The Pirates slammed the door shut on the Giants’ scoring chances fro the rest of the afternoon, with Cole going eight strong and Melancon pitching a hitless ninth in relief. Snider led the team with two RBI’s, while Cutch and Marte had one each. Cole earned his third victory of the season.
This was a huge victory for the Pirates. This was a faltering ballclub entering this home stand, and after taking two of three from the Toronto Blue Jays, they have won two of three from the Giants, who were red hot coming into PNC Park. After a day off tomorrow, the Pirates will welcome the St. Louis Cardinals to town for a three-game series this weekend.
Record vs. Giants: 2-1
Record vs. N.L. West: 2-1
Record at Home: 10-10
Overall Record: 14-20
Let’s Go Bucs!