After giving up 40 runs and going through 18 pitchers in their previous four games, Jhoulys Chacin gave the Colorado Rockies exactly what they needed tonight. Chacin allowed only one run in eight innings, leading the Rockies to a 4-2 victory over the Pirates.
Colorado jumped out to the lead in the second when Troy Tulowitzki took full advantage of a 3-2, 90 MPH, center-center slider, placing it eight rows deep into the left field bleachers.
The Pirates responded in the bottom of the third with a three-hit, one-run mini-rally. With one out, Starling Marte singled, Neil Walker doubled, and Andrew McCutchen singled home Marte. Rockies starter Yhoulys Chacin was freed of further trouble when an aggressive Pedro Alvarez put a big swing on the first fastball he saw, grounding into a 3-6-3 double play.
Pirates' starter Gerrit Cole put together three straight scoreless innings after the second inning, but ran into trouble in the sixth, allowing a lead-off walk to Dexter Fowler, who then stole second. After striking out someone named D.J. LeMahieu, someone named Corey Dickerson singled, moving Fowler over to third. After Dickerson's single, Clint Hurdle called on Justin Wilson to face Tulowitzki.
It was a little strange that Hurdle chose not to go with Jared Hughes to face Tulowitzki, as it was a situation begging for a ground ball, plus Hughes gives the platoon advantage. But Wilson has been lights out this season, so it is hard to complain too much.
"I didn't feel that was a situation I wanted to bring him back into the big leagues," Hurdle said about his decision not going with Hughes. "Wilson's been very effective and he was the most rested reliever we had."
Wilson ended up inducing weak contact from Tulowitzki in the form of a high chopper down the first base line, but Jones had to run too far in to field the ball, making any attempt to get Fowler at home futile. Worse, Walker was late covering first, so when the play ended the Rockies had runners on first and second, with still only one out.
Wilson then threw a wild pitch with Todd Helton batting, putting runners on second and third. With the count even at 2-2, Helton hit a ground ball single up the middle scoring two more runs, putting the Rockies up 4-1. And that was all the Rockies needed.
After scoring a run in the top of the ninth on back-to-back one out doubles from McCutchen and Alvarez, the Pirates twice brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth. But Russell Martin flew out to relatively deep center and Gaby Sanchez lined out to right field.
Cole pitched fairly well tonight, allowing only three hits and getting six strikeouts in 5.1 innings. He was removed with Tulowitzki coming up with runners on first and third. He had thrown 102 pitches. Afterwards he said he was "anxious" to face Tulowitzki and Helton in the sixth to get himself out of the jam.
I had seen him three times. I was comfortable facing him and facing Helton again. The Fowler walk was kind of brutal. Dickerson I made some really good pitches to. The kid's just talented he put a good swing on the slider. In hindsight, of course, I should have thrown it in the dirt or further in. Sometimes, though, they just hit good pitches. So I was definitely anxious to face Tulowitzki and Helton again with the opportunity to get the double play there.
Hurdle said that he removed Cole because he thought Tulowitzki was getting some "pretty good looks against him."
"I didn't think that was a matchup we needed take on after he had crossed the border of 100 pitches," he said.
The Pirates try to even the series tomorrow with Francisco Liriano taking the mound against Jorge De la Rosa.