Gerrit Cole, Jeanmar Gomez and Jose Tabata helped the Pirates to an easy 6-2 victory over the Diamondbacks on Friday.
Cole got through the first three innings fairly easily, with some help from a nifty second-inning double play from Neil Walker (who's become a better second baseman than I ever thought he'd be) and Jordy Mercer.
The Pirates scored two in the third. Neil Walker walked, then advanced to third when Andrew McCutchen hit a rare broken-bat double to right. Pedro Alvarez then singled up the middle to bring both runners home, with McCutchen just beating the throw.
The Diamondbacks tied the game almost immediately, however, as Gerrit Cole walked Paul Goldschmidt and Aaron Hill, then paid for those mistakes as Martin Prado singled in one runner and A.J. Pollock hit a ground-ball single to bring in another.
In the fifth, Starling Marte reached on a single up the middle, then took off just before Neil Walker drove a ball to the gap in right-center. Marte scored easily to give the Pirates a 3-2 lead. Then Walker raced home as McCutchen singled.
"The offense picked me up," Cole said. "I had an opportunity to get a shutdown inning early, and I pretty much blew that. I was fortunate that we were able to score two runs, and then I wasn't going to make the same mistake the second time out there in the sixth."
In the sixth, Cole set down Goldschmidt and Hill, giving up only a single to Prado before getting Wil Nieves to retire the side. Cole left after that inning, throwing 98 pitches. He got tagged with only those two runs and two walks, and he struck out five.
"[A]fter they had scored the two, he seemed to find the command that he needed," Clint Hurdle said, noting that Cole did a better job using his breaking ball late in his outing.
Cole said he felt a little rusty after not having pitched for eight days, and he implied he will have to deal with that rust as the Pirates continue to limit his innings down the stretch.
"It's tough to get kind of that feel for the breaking ball," he said. "I threw some good ones, [and] threw some ones where I probably wasn't totally committed to, you know, leaving it over the plate or trusting that it was going to break. That comes with eight days, and that's the challenge that I'm in right now. It's not an excuse, it's just something that I've got to attack, because it's going to happen again here soon."
With Tony Watson and Bryan Morris unavailable, or mostly unavailable, the Pirates turned to Jeanmar Gomez in the seventh inning of a 4-2 game. Gomez was excellent, cruising through two perfect innings and striking out Goldschmidt to end his appearance with three whiffs.
It looked like Mark Melancon would try for the save in the ninth, but Gaby Sanchez hit a line-drive double off lefty Eury De La Rosa with two outs, and Jose Tabata hit a rare homer, and an opposite-field shot, just over the Clemente Wall against J.J. Putz to make it 6-2. Melancon pitched anyway, and set Arizona down in order. (All the scoring in the eighth happened with two outs, so it was understandable that Hurdle had Melancon pitch, although it was annoying to see Melancon involved in a four-run game after not pitching yesterday.)
The Cardinals lost earlier today to the Cubs, so the Pirates' victory moves them three games up in the division, at least until the Reds' game against the Brewers is over.