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Walker, Alvarez, Cole lead Pirates to 4-1 win

Denis Poroy

The Pirates beat the Padres 4-1 Tuesday night on the strength of homers from Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez and a strong start from Gerrit Cole.

Padres starter Jesse Hahn made his big-league debut against the team he rooted for a kid (his parents are from the Pittsburgh area, and he grew up a fan of Roberto Clemente) and was very impressive for a while, striking out five batters in his first 2.2 innings. In the third, though, Walker launched a curveball to the opposite field for a two-run homer, and after Russell Martin walked to lead off the fourth, Alvarez followed with a line-drive shot to right.

Cole gave up a series of singles that led to a run in the sixth, but he left after 5.2 innings having only given up one run while striking out six. Jared Hughes relieved him and stranded two baserunners, and Tony Watson, Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli pitched scoreless innings from there.

By the way, Jason Lane, the former Astros outfielder who's spent the last couple years trying to work his way back to the big leagues as a pitcher, relieved Hahn in the fourth and whiffed Walker for his first big-league strikeout from the mound. He ended up pitching 3.1 scoreless innings.

The Pirates are now 28-30 and are actually within two games of a playoff spot. With no team really distinguishing itself in the Wild Card race right now, it's possible it will take many fewer wins to win the last Wild Card spot than the 90 the Reds got last year. The Bucs haven't played well this year so far, but they're still very much alive.