Marte's homer propels Bucs over Phils

Marte's homer propels Bucs over Phils

PHILADELPHIA -- Just like Gerrit Cole, Mark Melancon just needed some time to calm down.

Melancon, the Pirates' closer, allowed a home run to slumping Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera that narrowed the lead to one run, but Melancon induced three flyouts in the next four hitters to close out the win, 4-3. Similarly, Cole allowed two hits, a walk and a run in the first inning but was otherwise stellar Monday night, throwing seven innings of two-run, six-hit baseball and striking out six. The win lowered his ERA on the season to 2.32 and was secured by a three-run home run by Starling Marte in the third inning that proved to be the game's difference.

Cole picks up fifth win

"We can score runs in bunches, and that shows the importance of trying to limit the damage early," Cole said. "I had little trouble with my footing early, then I got comfortable."

The loss dropped the Phillies' record to 11-22 on the season. This is the first time the Phillies have sunk 11 games below .500 in May since 2002, and in that season, it took the team until the last day of the month to reach the mark.

"It's frustrating, but you just have to minimize [simple mistakes]," Phillies starting pitcher Jerome Williams said. "That's basically it. Just minimize those and play baseball."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Marte lapping himself: Pirates manager Clint Hurdle had perfect vision when he envisioned Marte as a middle-of-the-order run producer. The three-run homer in the third gave him 24 RBIs, and eight homers, way ahead of his '14 paces. More >

Marte's three-run homer

Walks burn Williams: Prior to the Marte home run, Williams doled out free passes to Gregory Polanco and Andrew McCutchen. Although the home run was the only hit Williams allowed in the inning, the two walks he issued on 11 pitches ended up being the two go-ahead runs. More >

Williams strikes out Marte

Herrera needed that: Herrera went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in his first three plate appearances, making him 2-for-23 with 14 strikeouts in his last six games. But he hit a solo home run to right field in the ninth inning to reduce Pittsburgh's lead to one. It was the first homer of his big league career.

Herrera's solo homer

"Herrera struggled right up to that at-bat," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He has a lot of body going forward. He seems to be in between the fastball and breaking pitches. Sometimes getting your first home run out of the way can make a difference."

QUOTABLE
"There is no doubt in my mind that he is going to work at it and be a good left fielder. Obviously, we all know that his bat plays at this level. He's still learning, and that's what I like about him. He doesn't think he has it all figured out. He wants to continue to learn and get better. So obviously, we are all disappointed that he's not going to be around. And we will see him pretty soon." -- Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, on Cody Asche's demotion to Triple-A, where he will learn to play left field

"We end up moving on a 3-2 count, and the ball ends up in center field, and we get a productive at-bat to score him. It was good to scratch out one more run." -- Hurdle, on the eventual winning run scored by Polanco, who was running on ball four to Neil Walker and took third on a throwing error by catcher Carlos Ruiz and scored on McCutchen's sacrifice fly

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
According to Hurdle's recollection, Kang dropped the high leg kick he was using in Korea -- and was expected to trouble him against Major League pitchers -- about 25 at-bats into preseason play, when he was 3-for-25 (.120). Since, combining exhibition and regular-season at-bats, he has hit .324 (23-for-71). More >

SHOCKER: ASCHE SENT TO TRIPLE-A
The Phillies' clubhouse felt a little like a funeral home after the game, when the front office optioned Asche to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, where he will learn to play left field. Asche is extremely popular in the Phillies' clubhouse, but with Triple-A third baseman Maikel Franco's promotion coming as early as Friday, the Phillies wanted Asche to get ready to play the outfield on a full-time basis. More >

Sandberg on 4-3 loss

WHAT'S NEXT
Pirates: A.J. Burnett takes the mound for Tuesday's 7:05 p.m. ET second game of the series, and the Phillies may not recognize their 2014 teammate. Burnett hasn't allowed more than two runs in any of six starts -- something he managed 10 times in 34 starts last season while pitching with a hernia.

Phillies: Phillies right-hander Sean O'Sullivan rejoins the rotation after spending time on the disabled list with left knee tendinitis. O'Sullivan is not completely stretched out, but the Phillies are hopeful he can provide them as many innings as possible to avoid taxing the bullpen.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. Nick Suss is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.