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Gerrit Cole was an ace, but Pirates fall anyway to Cubs, 1-0

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It was to be Gerrit Cole’s night.

After narrowly averting an Ian Happ homer in the top of the second, on a ball that hooked inches foul before bouncing into the river, Happ went down swinging at a high fastball. With two outs in the same inning jason Heyward worked a walk and Javy Baez beat out a slow tapper to third for a single, but after striking out the opposing pitcher to end the inning Cole got his groove back - retiring the next thirteen batters and only allowing one walk and one hit the rest of the way. He finished with a game score of 84, with two hits, four walks and eight strikeouts.

But the Pirates had also failed to score against Jose Quintana, the pitcher they were heavily rumored to pursuing before the season.

Hector Rondon set down the Pirates 1-2-3 in the seventh, but Pedro Strop walked Jordan Luplow with one out in the eighth. Andrew McCutchen flied out deep to center and then Luplow was easily thrown out trying to steal second to end the inning.

Daniel Hudson came on to pitch the ninth and promptly struck out Kris Bryant swinging, but followed that with a walk to Anthony Rizzo. Pinch-runner Leonys Martin stole second and was there with two outs when left-handed hitting Alex Avila looped a ball down the right field line that rolled into the corner and scored Martin from second with the first run of the night.

The Cubs closer Wade Davis then made short work of David Freese and pinch-hitters Josh Bell and John Jaso to earned his 29th save in as many chances.

The series will conclude Thursday evening at 7:05 p.m., with the Pirates looking to take three games out of four. John Lester (9-7) goes for the Cubs, Jameson Taillon (7-5) for the Pirates.