Andrew McCutchen’s three-home-run performance would be one for the ages in any case. That it came in conjunction with a stopper-like performance from Gerrit Cole in a 7-1 Pirates win over the Padres on Sunday is a nice little jolt for a struggling team.
McCutchen’s first blast, to center field, gave the Pirates a 1-0 first-inning lead they’d nurse for several innings. In the eighth, McCutchen hit another shot to center, upping the Pirates’ lead to 5-1. In the ninth, he knocked one of the right-field foul pole for a 7-1 edge.
All three shots were solo homers. It was McCutchen’s third three-homer game of his career.
In between Cutch’s homers, the game was won by Cole, who allowed one run in seven innings, and Jose Osuna, who cracked a two-run triple and scored, providing three crucial runs, in the sixth.
Cole struck out eight and walked just two. He allowed five hits, the only damage coming on a Dusty Coleman homer in the seventh. Cole is on a stretch of five nice starts now; the Pirates hadn’t won since he took the hill Monday in San Francisco.
The Pirates were clinging to the 1-0 lead for a while, riding Cole’s mound work. McCutchen walked and David Freese singled to open the sixth, then Osuna whacked a triple to center for a 3-0 lead. Jordy Mercer singled to score Osuna for a 4-0 lead.
Josh Bell added a pinch-hit homer from the right side in the ninth. Mercer also doubled; he and Osuna both went 2-for-4.
Juan Nicasio pitched a clean eighth, and they took Felipe Rivero out of the mothballs for the ninth.
The Pirates lost Josh Harrison, who tweaked something in his lower left leg running out a ground ball in the third. He was termed day-to-day. That may or may not mean something going into Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline.
The Pirates finished their western road trip a disappointing 3-6, winning one game each in Denver, San Francisco and San Diego. The sliver-ish lining is that they get more cracks at lesser opponents at home now, facing the Reds and these same Padres. Make of that what you will.