Gerrit Cole had struck out 38% of the batters he’s faced this year, but facing his former team he got only three Pirates on strikes. Balls were put in play, and seven counted as hits, but still it was a pitcher’s duel between Cole and Trevor Williams. But two swings on two high fastballs both found the seats for the Astros.
The Pirates nearly scored first when Starling Marte lifted a ball deep to right, but Josh Reddick reached over the top of the fence to pull it back for a home run saving catch. Williams wasn’t as fortunate in the bottom of the inning, as Cuban emigre Yuliesky Gourriel turned on a high inside fastball, well out of the zone, and smashed it into the seats down the left field line for a two-run homer, scoring Alex Bregman who had doubled.
The Pirates got one back in the sixth when Corey Dickerson lined a ball the other way that hit the short left field wall, just below the top and just fair, settling for a double. After a pair of soft ground outs, Melky Cabrera found the grass in right field for an RBI single, cutting the Houston lead to 2-1.
Colin Moran followed with a line single to right and Jose Osuna worked a walk to load the bases with two outs, but the Pirates’ final chance ended as Elias Diaz tapped softly to first base.
When Bregman came up in the bottom of the inning he quickly took that run back on a towering fly into the left field seats.
Williams worked into the seventh, allowing another run when Josh Reddick doubled and came home on a sacrifice fly. On the night he threw 69 of 100 pitches for strikes, allowing eight hits and no walks in six and two thirds innings.
Cole went six innings, staying strong throughout, as his 103rd and next to last pitch came in at 100 mph.
With the loss, the Pirates’ record stands at 36-41, still in last place, 6.0 games behind the Cubs.
The two teams go at it again at 8:10 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday night, as the Pirates recall Dario Agrazal for his second major league start. He’ll be faced by Astros’ left-hander Framber Valdez (3-3, 3.61)