Alvarez, Cole lead Pirates to series sweep
A Pedro Alvarez home run and another strong start by right-hander Gerrit Cole resulted in the Pittsburgh Pirates completing a three-game sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers with a 5-2 win at PNC Park on Sunday afternoon.
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The Alvarez home run proved to be the game winner, coming in the bottom of the third inning against Milwaukee starter Matt Garza. The right-hander laid a 2-0 fastball down the middle of the plate and Alvarez quickly deposited it beyond the center field wall for his fourth homer of the young season, giving Pittsburgh a 3-2 lead.
A two-run single off the bat of Chris Stewart accounted for the final two Pirates runs in the bottom of the sixth – closing the book on Garza (1-2, 5.40), who was charged with five earned on seven hits in six innings of work, striking out and walking three.
His counterpart, Pittsburgh right-hander Gerrit Cole, was solid yet-again, allowing just a pair of early runs before settling in for six innings in which he punched out half-a-dozen and walked just one. Cole (2-0, 3.18) has now made back-to-back six-inning starts in which he struck out at least six batters.
Milwaukee (2-8) answered back in the top of the second against Cole, scoring a pair of runs against the Pirates’ young ace, who quickly settled in after that to cruise the rest of the way. In his last eight starts at PNC Park, Cole is undefeated, with a 6-0 record in those outings.
Pittsburgh shortstop Jordy Mercer left in the sixth after being hit in the ribcage by a Garza pitch and was replaced by Jung-ho Kang. X-rays were negative, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Mark Melancon pitched a scoreless ninth for his second save of the season.
What Stood Out:
After being outscored in the Detroit series 8-4, the Pittsburgh offense was firing on all cylinders against the lowly Brewers, outscoring Ron Roenicke‘s team 17-7 over the course of the three-game series.
The Pirates, as a team, struck out only four times on Sunday, but went just 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position. That being said, the offense is definitely showing more life the more the season progresses.
Pittsburgh (6-6) will welcome the new-look Chicago Cubs (6-5) to PNC Park on Monday night for the first meeting of a four-game series.
Right-hander Jake Arrieta (1-1, 1.98 ERA) will take the ball for the Cubs in the opener and will be opposed by veteran righty A.J. Burnett (0-1, 2.25 ERA) for Pittsburgh. First pitch is slated for 6:05 p.m. CT.