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Cole, Mercer lead Pirates over Angels, 5-2

Gerrit Cole has now opened his career with three straight wins over former Cy Young winners. And maybe, just maybe, the Pirates have found a shortstop.

Victor Decolongon

Cole is going to make things very tough for Pirates GM Neal Huntington, who has cautioned that Cole may head back to the minors as the Pirates' legion of injured starters begins to return. The team's top prospect dominated the Angels for six innings, pitching efficiently - it took him only 69 pitches to get that far - AND striking out five, which hopefully will calm a little of the outcry over his low strikeout totals in his first two games. He did it against a good lineup; the Angels played without Josh Hamilton, but he's having a terrible year anyway. Cole weakened in the 7th, allowing a leadoff HR to . . . naturally . . . Albert Pujols, and then issuing his first pro walk. He also took a shot off his leg, which Neil Walker alertly turned into a groundout. Despite some initial concern, it appears the ball may have been injured worse than Cole.

As a bonus, Clint Hurdle got away without using any of his top relievers other than Jason Grilli. Vin Mazzaro came on to retire five straight hitters, then Grilli had a 1-2-3 9th with two whiffs for his 26th save.

Cole's night overshadowed a big game from Jordy Mercer. He went 3-4 and connected on his fourth HR with one aboard in the 2nd. It came after the team's other hottest hitter, Pedro Alvarez, opened the inning, and the scoring, with his 17th longball. Andrew McCutchen, who also had two hits, drove in a late insurance run with a double and Starling Marte got a gift RBI triple when Peter Bourjos lost his deep fly in the Anaheim sky of Los Angeles.