Cole cruises as Pirates hand Anibal, Tigers first loss

Cole cruises as Pirates hand Anibal, Tigers first loss

PITTSBURGH -- Gerrit Cole pitched one-hit ball into the seventh inning and Josh Harrison, Pedro Alvarez and pinch-hitter Corey Hart homered, and the Pirates held on for a 5-4 win over the previously undefeated Tigers in Pittsburgh's home opener Monday afternoon.

Anibal Sanchez made 101 pitches without giving up a run in his first start Wednesday, but his first pitch this time was deposited in the right-center seats by Harrison to jump-start the Bucs in front of 39,933, a record regular-season crowd in PNC Park.

Detroit chased Cole by loading the bases with none out to open the seventh, but Jared Hughes came on to induce Nick Castellanos into a first-pitch double play and got Alex Avila on a popup to retire the side. Cole allowed just one run in six-plus innings, allowing three hits and two walks while striking out eight. More >

Pirates closer Mark Melancon entered a 5-1 game in a non-save situation in the ninth and surrendered three runs, two on a homer by J.D. Martinez, before closing it out.

Melancon ends the game

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Harrison raises the curtain with a bang:  Harrison waited little time giving the home crowd a chance to cheer. No time, really -- he belted Sanchez's first pitch into the right-center stands for his third career leadoff home run. That may not sound overly impressive, but Harrison was making only his 97th career start as a leadoff batter. More >

Harrison's leadoff home run

Big swings, momentum and otherwise: One minute, the Pirates and Cole were in trouble, their 2-0 lead threatened with the bases loaded with Tigers and none out in the seventh. Eight pitches later, the Bucs led, 5-1: Hughes got three outs on three pitches, Alvarez began the bottom of the inning with a first-pitch homer, Francisco Cervelli singled and Jordy Mercer sacrificed on first pitches, and Hart homered on a 1-0 pitch. More >

Alvarez's solo shot

Sanchez shines, but long ball haunts him: Sanchez's first and last pitches ended up in the seats at PNC Park, his first multi-homer game since Oakland got him in the 2013 American League Division Series. He looked good in the middle, retiring 12 consecutive hitters from the third through sixth innings. But the seven home runs Sanchez allowed in Spring Training now look more like a sign than an anomaly. More >

Sanchez on Tigers' first loss

Staying alive, but unrewarded: The Tigers had only a Castellanos single and an Avila walk to show for six innings off Cole before Miguel Cabrera, J.D. Martinez and Yoenis Cespedes loaded the bases in the seventh. All three fell in 0-2 counts but fouled off fastballs at 95-plus mph to stay alive and chase Cole. Just when the Tigers had their chance, Hughes induced a Castellanos double-play grounder on the first pitch, scoring a run but halting the momentum. Five pitches into the bottom of the seventh, Detroit trailed by four runs, and Victor Martinez's window as a pinch-hitter had passed. More >

QUOTABLE

"I wasn't expecting to go 162-0." -- Tigers manager Brad Ausmus

"Awesome. I love it when the crowd's behind us like that. After getting that final out, this huge roar coming up from the stadium, it's like everything's shaking. It's pretty awesome." -- Hughes

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Sanchez gave up almost as many home runs (three) in 6 1/3 innings Monday as he did over 126 innings in 2014 (four).

Hart's pinch-hit, two-run homer

In three pinch-hit opportunities for the Pirates this season, Hart is 3-for-3 with four RBIs and four pitches seen. He entered Monday with a strong track record against Sanchez, batting .467 (7-for-15) with two home runs. Hart's pinch-hit, two-run shot off Sanchez in the seventh was also his 1,000th hit in the Majors. His first hit was also a homer, off Cincinnati's Jason Standridge on Aug. 14, 2005.

WHAT'S NEXT
Tigers: A decade after the Tigers tried to woo A.J. Burnett as a budding young free agent, they'll try to hit him as a crafty Pirates veteran on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. ET. He's 6-2 lifetime against Detroit despite a 5.19 ERA in 11 career meetings. Shane Greene will start for the Tigers, trying to follow up on his eight innings with an unearned run last time out.

Pirates: Burnett makes his return PNC Park start in the second game of the Interleague series, squaring off against Greene. The Bucs will be looking for their seventh straight Interleague victory at home.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.