During the bottom of the first Pirates’ fans could be excused for thinking it was going to be another one of those nights, as Gerrit Cole had just allowed a 2-run homers to Maikel Franco and took 25 pitches to conclude his initial inning. However, Cole settled down to throw five shutout frames after that and the Pirates exploded for four runs in the fourth, capped by Cole’s two-run bases-loaded single.
After exchanging zeroes in the second and third innings, the Pirates broke through against rookie starter Ben Lively in the top of the fourth. John Jaso started with a line-drive single to left field. Andrew McCutchen followed with a grounder to short, but hustled and beat the throw to first, avoiding a double play. Josh Bell then lined a ball off the right-field wall which on the bounce struck Nick Williams in the face and settled behind him. While Williams searched for it, Bell scampered to third for an RBI triple. He then scored on a sac-fly to center by David Freese that nearly reached the fence.
With two outs, the inning started anew as Gregory Polanco lined a single to right, Francisco Cervelli walked and Jordy Mercer reached on a throwing error by the pitcher Lively. Cole then sharply grounded an 0-2 pitch up the middle, just out of the reach of shortstop Freddy Galvis, to drive in the third and fourth runs of the inning.
The only other run of the game came in the Pirates’ sixth when Freese led off with a walk and scored on Mercer’s two-out triple lined off the right-field wall, retrieved after a wild carom by right fielder Nick Williams in straight away center.
Cole finished with just one walk (on a 3-2 fastball well in the strike zone that was called a ball) and eight K’s in six innings, and had the endurance to hit 100 mph on his 110th pitch of the game. For the game he threw 75 strikes out of 113 pitches (66%), with 17 of those put in play (23%)
Daniel Hudson worked around two hits to pitch a scoreless seventh, Juan Nicasio had a perfect eighth, and then Senor Buenos Noches Felipe Rivero baffled three of the four hitters he faced in the ninth for strikeouts en route to his fifth save.