Gerrit Cole pitches shutout; Pittsburgh Pirates rock Seattle Mariners

By Shelly Anderson, The Sports Xchange
Gerrit Cole pitches shutout; Pittsburgh Pirates rock Seattle Mariners
Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Gerrit Cole. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

PITTSBURGH -- Wins had been elusive for Gerrit Cole. A complete game? That would be a luxury.

The Pittsburgh right-hander came up with both Wednesday night. He pitched a three-hitter and singled and scored as the Pirates beat the Seattle Mariners 10-1 at PNC Park to gain a split of a two-game series.


"You try to do it every time out, but it's not something I had been dwelling on," Cole (6-6) said of turning in his first career complete game. "There are lot of variables that can leak into any start and throw you astray, so you just focus on the things you can control like your delivery and making quality pitches."

He did that early and often. He struck out six, walked none and needed just 94 pitches to earn his first win since May 20. Between, there were a mix of shaky starts, lack of run support and a little more a month on the DL because of a right triceps injury.

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Cole, who was making his third start since coming off the DL, had three losses and three no-decisions since that May 20 start, when he allowed one run and 10 hits in a 2-1 win over Colorado.

The only run he allowed against the Mariners came in the sixth when Norichika Aoki led off with a double and later scored on Robinson Cano's sacrifice fly to make it 3-1.

"He put his foot down and pitched," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of the 25-year-old who has been expected to be one of the anchors of the rotation. "That's as efficient as I've seen him since he's been here. Twenty pitches the first inning, 74 for the other eight. Really good outing. Really good outing.

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"I think (pitching a complete game) is part of the ownership of working your way to being a staff ace. He's still got work to do. He's still cutting his teeth in some areas. That type of performance is the type of performance you need to put you in that position. It helped the confidence."

Jung Ho Kang hit a bases-clearing double in a four-run seventh inning and Andrew McCutchen hit a three-run homer in the eighth after the Pirates built a 3-0 lead in the third.


James Paxton (3-5), who ended a run of three starts without a win Saturday when he pitched seven innings in a 2-1 victory at Toronto, gave up three runs and six hits. He struck out six and walked one but labored at times, needing 97 pitches to get through five innings.

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"I didn't have my best stuff; my location wasn't really great today. It was kind of a battle," Paxton said. "I was pulling a little bit early on my front side so my location wasn't great. They hit some OK pitches there, left a couple up that hurt."

Right-hander Drew Storen, acquired a night earlier in a trade with Toronto, made his Seattle debut relieving Paxton. Storen pitched 1 1/3 innings and was charged with all four Pittsburgh runs in the seventh. Nathan Karns and David Rollins finished up.

"We kind of struggled," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "We're right there in the game, 3-1, tough game, you're going to need a big hit or something to go your way."

In the Pittsburgh seventh, Cole led off with a single, the first of five hits in the inning. Cole scored when Starling Marte drew a bases-loaded walk, and Kang followed with his three-run double.


In the eighth, McCutchen's drive over the center-field wall off Rollins made it 10-1. It was McCutchen's 15th homer of the season and the 166th of his career, tying him with Dave Parker for fifth in Pirates history. The four RBIs gave him 600 for his career.

It might have been a breakout game for McCutchen and Kang, who have been struggling and entered the game with identical .241 batting averages.

"I don't think there's anything in this game that helps boost confidence other than success," Hurdle said. "Their success was real -- the ability to drive in some runs, the ability to lay off some pitches."

McCutchen said Cole's performance had something to do with that.

"When you get good pitching, a lot of the time the offense, it follows," he said. "You see someone going out there and he's throwing, he's working hard, he's working quick, he's getting fast outs, we're playing great defense. That just carries over. It's a never-ending circle. It just keeps going and everything keeps working. Tonight was one of those nights."

There was no scoring for the first 2 1/2 innings, but the Pirates did provide a bit of extra entertainment in the top of the second.


First baseman David Freese bobbled a grounder hit his way by Aoki, but he recovered sufficiently to send a behind-the-back flip to Cole, who was headed to cover first. Cole made a barehanded grab and stepped on the base just ahead of Aoki.

Pittsburgh batted around in the third. It started when Josh Harrison tripled on a ball that bounced under sliding center fielder Leonys Martin -- Harrison rounded third with thoughts of an inside-the-park homer but had to scramble back to third. After Cole struck out, Jordy Mercer's double to left scored Harrison for a 1-0 lead.

Freese got an infield single, and McCutchen's double drove home Mercer to make it 2-0. Marte got grazed by a Paxton pitch to load the bases. Kang drew a walk to make it 3-0.

Cole felt some fatigue but fed off the energy of Pittsburgh's offense.

"(I was) not as strong in the eighth and ninth as I was earlier in the game, but once we got the lead and expanded on it, with the type of contact we were getting and way we were playing great on defense all night, there was no sense fooling around because we already had a good ballgame going on," he said. "I just kept attacking and trying to get quick outs."


Cole was the first Pirates batter up in the seventh and the second one in the ninth, but Hurdle didn't consider using a pinch-hitter or making a change in the ninth.

"He earned that opportunity," the manager said. "There's no flat-out way I'm taking him out of that game. There's no way he's coming out of that game without getting an opportunity. You've got to give him a chance to paint his own picture."

NOTES: Seattle OF/DH Nelson Cruz was not in the starting lineup on Wednesday. He fouled a ball off his left leg in Tuesday's game. Manager Scott Servais said it wasn't serious and that Cruz's leg already was banged up. He also noted if it was an American League park, Cruz probably would have been in the lineup as a designated hitter. ... Mariners RHP Taijuan Walker, who is on the disabled list because of right foot tendinitis, pitched a three-inning simulated game at PNC Park as scheduled. His next step is expected to be a minor league rehab start over the weekend. ... Seattle RHP Nick Vincent, who is on the disabled list because of a back strain, is scheduled to throw off the found Friday and probably will be on a rehab assignment next week. ... Facing a left-hander, the Pirates left RF Gregory Polanco out of the starting lineup. Polanco went 4-for-5 on Tuesday. ... Pittsburgh RHP Tyler Glasnow, who is on the disabled list because of right shoulder inflammation, is scheduled to begin playing catch over the weekend. ... Pirates C Chris Stewart, who is on the disabled list because of left knee discomfort, ran the bases and might go on rehab assignment as soon as next week. ... Both teams have a day off Thursday.


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