PITTSBURGH -- Gerrit Cole is not only an All-Star. He's an all-timer, as far as Pittsburgh's franchise is concerned. Cole scattered six hits in seven innings Friday night as the Bucs downed the Cardinals, 5-2, to even their four-game series and return within 4 1/2 games of the National League Central leaders.
With his Majors-leading 13th victory, Cole became the second pitcher in club history to win as many prior to the All-Star Game break, joining Dock Ellis (14-3 in 1971). His main offensive support came from Neil Walker, whose 3-for-4 night included a two-run homer off Lance Lynn in the fourth.
"When [Lynn] is not hitting both sides of the plate, you can get into some good hitter's counts," Walker said. "That's what we were able to do tonight. I consider myself more of a situational hitter, but getting a pitch up and over the zone, I was able to drive it."
Matt Carpenter gave the Cardinals a brief 2-1 lead with a two-run homer to straightaway center in the third. Lynn went four innings and allowed five runs, all earned -- matching the combined total off him in his previous six starts.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Pinball baseball: An apparent third inning-ending double play ball turned into a hit and the Pirates' go-ahead run. With Jung Ho Kang on first, Walker on second and one out, Jordy Mercer sent a grounder toward shortstop Jhonny Peralta. The grounder, however, hit Walker. Per the rules: Mercer gets credit for a hit, Peralta gets credit for one unassisted putout, and the inning continues -- for Pedro Alvarez to single to center to score Kang and give the Bucs a 3-2 lead. More >
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny took issue with the play.
"The way the rule is stated is if it's not intentional, then it's only one out, which, wow, that's a tough one to wear. You can't prove intent, but it was certainly a good spot for Jhonny to be in to step on the bag and turn two," Matheny said. "That saves us a run right there."
Carp crushes one: St. Louis struggled to get to Cole, but the Cardinals held a brief lead thanks to a two-run home run off the bat of Carpenter. After Tommy Pham doubled to right to start off the top of the third, Carpenter worked into a favorable 2-0 count, identified an 86-mph slider that caught too much of the zone, and drove it into the center-field shrubbery.
"The home runs don't come from him on accident," Matheny said. "He's got power."
All-Star closer:Mark Melancon worked around a one-out single by Randal Grichuk to lock up his Major League-leading 29th save of the season. Melancon struck out Pham swinging to end the game, matching the club record before the All-Star break.
"I've got to start getting ahead of him, or just walk him. Stop messing with him because he seems to have my number or he's got something on me." -- Lynn, on Walker's 3-for-3 night against him More >
"We didn't chase. His command challenged him tonight, and once we felt he wasn't on top of his game, we tried to [look for pitches] in a very small area." -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, on his club's performance against Lynn
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Cole's career record in PNC Park improved to 18-8; overall, the Pirates have won 23 of his 32 home starts.
The Cardinals had a baserunner erased in the fourth inning. Cole fired a pitch that bounced off the end of Yadier Molina's bat, but home-plate umpire Brian O'Nora ruled that the pitch hit Molina, who trotted down the line to first base. Hurdle challenged the call, and the call was overturned after a brief review. Molina returned to the batter's box before the call was even made official -- it was clear on the replay shown inside PNC Park -- and wound up grounding out to third base.
WHAT'S NEXT Cardinals: With the series even, veteran right-hander John Lackey will try to buck recent history and be the difference for St. Louis on Saturday at 6:15 p.m. CT at PNC Park. Lackey (7-5, 3.09 ERA) has been superb at home this season with a 1.98 ERA at Busch Stadium, but has left much to be desired on the road. The 36-year-old is 2-3 with a 4.60 ERA in eight road starts this year.
Pirates:A.J. Burnett makes his 422nd start -- but his first as an All-Star -- Saturday at 7:15 p.m. ET in the third game of the series against the Cardinals. The veteran right-hander's strong 17th season includes a streak without giving up a homer now at 46 innings overall and 39 2/3 innings in PNC Park.