Cole pitches well in another big game
After the last out of the seventh inning, Gerrit Cole put his head down and marched off the field. As the crowd gave him a raucous standing ovation, the right-hander continued his determined pace before punching up his right arm in acknowledgement and stomping down the dugout steps.
"The fans really respect toughness, grit, intensity out here, and those are three words we played with well tonight," Cole said of the reaction when he left the mound. "They seem to respond well when we go out there and really grind through stuff and show them our heart. We all appreciate an ovation like that."
Cole didn't dominate, but once again he came up big in a big game.
"He stayed in charge and he stayed aggressive," Hurdle said. "He competed and kept his edge on the mound."
Cole allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings. He walked two while striking out three.
Walker still rolling
Neil Walker continued his July breakout.
With the Pirates leading 3-2 in the fourth, Walker hit a high arcing parabola into the first rows over the right-center field wall. The homer scored Chris Stewart and put the Pirates ahead 5-2.
"He missed a spot and fortunately I got a barrel to it," Walker explained simply.
Walker is now hitting .404/.431/.619 in July. He's scored 11 runs and collected 10 RBIs.
"It was a huge at-bat," Cole said of Walker's home run. "It was a big momentum shift. It was our job to maintain that."
Another game of many contributions
The Pirates also got an offensive boost from the middle of the lineup, as Jung-Ho Kang, Jordy Mercer and Pedro Alvarez combined for five hits and three RBIs.
"The middle of the lineup showed up," Hurdle said. "There was consistency from top to bottom."
The Pirates once again followed the script that has become so familiar over the last two weeks: They continue to receive contributions from all over the roster.
"I believe it's going to be a good offense," Hurdle said. "I was asked a question a couple months ago, ‘Do we have enough offense?' We've won 51 games. It's predicated on pitching and defense, but I believe we have an offense that can compete."
Melancon gets 29th save
With a thumping chant of "Let's go Bucs!" echoing through the park with more enthusiasm than it has all season, Mark Melancon closed out another win.
"He's lock-down," Cole said. "There's no other way to describe it."
Melancon now has 29 saves and 27 straight appearances without allowing an earned run.
"It's cool, it's neat," Melancon said of leading the league in saves heading into the All-Star break. "Just keep plugging away. Hopefully, I can pick up one or two more because that means a win."
The record for consecutive appearances without allowing an earned run is 38 held by Craig Kimbrel (2011).