Cole cruises to victory over Giants

Cole cruises to victory over Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole, the National League's Pitcher of the Month for April, performed Monday night as if he turned the calendar backward instead of forward.

Cole allowed a pair of unearned first-inning runs before shutting down the San Francisco Giants for the remainder of his seven-inning outing as the Pirates held on for a 4-3 triumph. Cole improved to 3-0 lifetime against the Giants, who vanquished Pittsburgh in last year's Wild Card Game en route to their World Series triumph.

Trailing, 4-2, San Francisco loaded the bases with nobody out in the sixth inning against Cole, who escaped the jam by striking out Brandon Belt and coaxing Brandon Crawford's double-play grounder.

Cole induces DP to escape jam

"We've seen him do that many times, so we've come to expect it of him," said second baseman Neil Walker, who started that inning-ending double play two innings after his two-run double snapped a 2-2 tie.

"The good ones, especially with that kind of stuff, they find a way to get out of it and he did," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said, praising Cole. "That was pretty much our undoing and we couldn't quite take advantage with two good hitters up. He made pitches there to stop it."

Deja two: Rob me once, shame on you? Rob me twice, shame on me? Andrew McCutchen could've been thinking that halfway through the game. With the bases loaded and one out in the third, center fielder Angel Pagan made a fabulous diving catch of his drive to left-center. Two innings later, again with the bases loaded and one out, right fielder Hunter Pence did likewise on his drive to right-center. McCutchen did net two sacrifice flies -- but could've had six RBIs instead of two. More >

Giants rob McCutchen twice

Crumbling chances: The sixth inning wasn't the only instance when the Giants squandered a scoring opportunity. They had runners on first and second with one out in the third inning when Buster Posey bounced into a double play.

Harrison, Walker turn 6-4-3 DP

Fateful free pass: Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong lamented hitting Josh Harrison with an 0-2 pitch in the fifth inning. That, along with a walk to the next hitter, Gregory Polanco, helped Pittsburgh rally for three runs.

"I had [Harrison] set up to go in there and it just got away from me a little bit," Vogelsong said of the wayward pitch.

"This was a good start [to June]. One of the greatest places to play, and [against] one of the best teams. They've won three World Series in five years. 'Uncle.'" -- Clint Hurdle, in admiration of the Giants.

Chris Stewart is not the Pirates' primary catcher, but being the best Pirates pitcher's catcher gives him some cachet. The Bucs have won nine of Stewart's overall 12 starts behind the plate, and his catcher's ERA dropped to 1.83 with Monday's effort.

The Pirates' successful challenge that a fan interfered with right fielder Polanco's attempt to catch an eighth-inning foul took the bat out of Posey's hands as he represented the potential tying run. With two outs in the eighth and the Bucs holding a one-run lead, Posey hit a high foul toward the right-field corner, and Polanco stretched his 6-foot-4 body to attempt the catch -- but his effort was hampered by a fan in, ironically, a Pirates jersey. First-base umpire Bill Miller's ruling of "no play" moved Hurdle to ask for a review, which resulted in the call being overturned for the third out.

Fan interference ruled in 8th

"It looked like the fan was in fair territory a little bit," Bochy said. "If he wouldn't have been there, I don't know if [Polanco] would've caught the ball. It looked like it hit his glove and he just missed it and the fan hit him. You're not going to get that call once a fan reaches into fair territory. That was my thinking there and so I wasn't surprised they overturned it." More >

Bochy on fan interference

Pirates: A.J. Burnett starts Tuesday's middle game of the series against the Giants -- and a new month, after one of the most brilliant of his long career. The righty went 5-0 with a 1.82 ERA in six May starts and will be seeking his seventh win in 10 career decisions against San Francisco in the 10:15 p.m. ET affair.

Giants: Belt will attempt to continue his productivity in Tuesday's 7:15 p.m. PT rematch against the Pirates. He has reached base safely in 17 consecutive games, the National League's second-longest active streak (St. Louis' Matt Holliday is at 47).

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Chris Haft is a reporter for Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.