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Reds get to Gerrit Cole early, Pirates lose, 7-3

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MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Fall is coming. In a lot of ways, it’s already here.

On an unseasonably chilly night I settled in with some real-life pals to discuss in real life what ails the Pirates, while watching those ailments manifest in real life, as opposed to the internet- and cable-aided versions of doing those things.

It felt good to complain in person. I’m going to miss that once the season ends, as weird as it sounds. Good or bad, I always miss it.

I’ll even miss games like this one, in which the outcome was rarely in much doubt, the events on the field merely providing me lines to draw in a scorebook.

The Reds filled three squares in the first inning, taking a 3-0 lead off Gerrit Cole, and continued on to a 7-3 victory over the floundering Pirates on Friday night, commencing another September’s worth of baseball at PNC Park.

Billy Hamilton singled, naturally. He stole second, naturally. Chris Stewart’s throw went into center field and Hamilton took third. Zack Cozart walked. Joey Votto doubled to right field, scoring Hamilton. Adam Duvall smacked a double to center, scoring Cozart and Votto.

Cole recovered with a groundout and a pair of strikeouts, stranding Duvall at third, and the Pirates pulled within one, 3-2, in the second inning thanks to Stewart and John Jaso, two veterans not serving much purpose getting as much playing time as they’re getting late in a lost season.

David Freese singled to open the bottom of the second, then Jaso smacked a double to right, scoring Freese. After Jordy Mercer grounded out, Stewart slapped a grounder just out of the reach of Votto at first, and Jaso just beat the throw home. The Pirates would get runners on the corners, but strand them on Starling Marte’s strikeout.

The Reds added a run in the sixth and two more in the eighth.

Scooter Gennett smashed one to the wall in center. Andrew McCutchen made a valiant leaping effort and got his glove on the ball, though not firmly, keeping it in the park for a triple, and Gennett quickly scored on a sacrifice fly.

Cole was done after six. He gave up six hits, just three after the tumultuous first, for five runs, striking out six and walking three.

A.J. Schugel pitched a clean seventh, but the Reds got three singles, a walk and a pair of runs off Dovydas Neverauskas in the eighth.

Reds starter Luis Castillo, who went toe-to-toe with Cole in a 1-0 Pirates win last weekend in Cincinnati, lasted just four innings, needing 89 pitches to get there, though he fanned five, walked one and allowed three hits. Asher Wojciechowski kept the Pirates off the board in the fifth and sixth, giving the Reds time to eventually pad their lead.

The Pirates got one off of Drew Storen in the eighth. Josh Harrison led off with a double. A pair of groundouts only got him to third, but Josh Bell singled him home. Freese also singled, but no rally could really materialize, as Jaso struck out to end the inning.

Gennett, who seems to be a Pirate killer, at least by my memory, was 3-for-4 with two runs scored.

The Pirates have lost four in a row and 14 of 19.