Pittsburgh Pirates, Cole hold on against Giants 4-3
Gerrit Cole pitched seven dominant innings as the Pittsburgh Pirates held on to beat the San Francisco Giants 4-3 on Monday night. Cole did give up two runs, but both were unearned, as he also notched nine strikeouts to help secure his eighth win of the season. Former Pirate Ryan Vogelsong opposed Cole on the mound and gave up four runs (three earned) over six innings, striking out five in the process. Each team only had six hits on the day as the game was low-scoring, but the Pirates’ pitching managed to keep the Giants’ offense in check for most of the night.
Brandon Belt got the scoring started after he doubled off of Cole in the first inning, plating two. Those two runs would go in the book as unearned due to Jung Ho Kang throwing a ball too high for first baseman Pedro Alvarez on a routine grounder, earning an error on the play. But the Pirates would recover and plate four runs across three innings to take a 4-2 lead after the fifth. The lead could have been larger if it weren’t for Giants’ center fielder Angel Pagan making a magnificent diving catch in center, limiting Andrew McCutchen to a sacrifice fly in the third as opposed to an extra base hit.
Tony Watson allowed the first run against him since April in the eighth. The run could have been averted if Josh Harrison had made a stop at third base earlier in the inning. Watson’s ERA only rose to 1.55 after the game. Mark Melancon came into the game in the ninth and retired the Giant batters in order, earning his 14th save of the season as the Pirates held on for a 4-3 victory.
What Stood Out
Cole is pitching like the ace everyone had hoped he would become this season. The defining moment for Cole and the Pirates came in the bottom of the sixth when the Giants managed to get bases loaded with no outs after two singles and a walk. Cole struck out Brandon Belt and then got Brandon Crawford to ground into a double play to exit the inning unscathed. Cole’s ERA now sits at 1.90 on the season.
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Chris Stewart was the only offensive standout for the Pirates and was the only Pittsburgh player to notch more than one hit on the night. He went three for four with three doubles, doing so for the first time in his career. Stewart is batting .296 on the season and joins Francisco Cervelli as one of the top-hitting catching duos in all of baseball.
The Pittsburgh Pirates (27-24) and San Francisco Giants (30-23) meet for the second game of the three-game set Tuesday night at AT&T Park. A.J. Burnett (5-1, 1.81 ERA) is seeking his sixth straight win as he opposes second-year righty Chris Heston (5-3, 3.82 ERA) for the Giants. First pitch is scheduled for 10:15 PM EST.