Bucs can't write happy ending after sticking to script

Bucs can't write happy ending after sticking to script

MIAMI -- For six innings Tuesday night, the Pirates and Marlins stuck to the script. The principal characters, Gerrit Cole and Jose Fernandez, were characteristically in control. The young aces combined to hang up 13 zeros on the Marlins Park scoreboard before one finally cracked.

In the end, Fernandez outdueled Cole as the Pirates gave up three runs in the seventh, saw a ninth-inning rally fizzle and lost, 3-1.

"It was a fun ballgame there for about six innings," Cole said.

Cole worked his way out of trouble in the first, third and sixth innings before Miami finally ended the pitchers' duel. Ichiro Suzuki and J.T. Realmuto singled, and Christian Yelich delivered the first blow.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle thought Cole struck out Yelich on a 1-2 fastball down in the zone, but it was called a ball. Two pitches later, Cole left a slider up in the zone and Yelich lashed it into right field.

Cole then walked Marcell Ozuna, yanking the last pitch past catcher Francisco Cervelli. Realmuto came home to score on the wild pitch, and Cole left the game after 6 1/3 innings.

"Just didn't make enough quality pitches," Cole said.

Still, Cole's performance left an impression. Hurdle called it a "very gutsy performance" as Cole held Miami to three runs on nine hits and two walks over 6 1/3 innings.

Cole's quality start

"That's probably the best I've seen him," added Marlins manager Don Mattingly. "It looks like he's getting better, too. Really well-pitched game."

Unfortunately for the Pirates, that description applies just the same to Fernandez. Miami's star right-hander won his seventh straight start, holding Pittsburgh to three hits while striking out six.

"He had his stuff. Very unpredictable off the mound," Hurdle said. "A lot of offspeed stuff in offensive counts, which can be very challenging. That kept us pretty much a little bit out in front or behind, couldn't square him up out over the plate."

Yet the way Tuesday night played out was somewhat predictable -- according to script, even.

Before the game, Hurdle said the Pirates' best hope if Fernandez had his "A" game was to "get nothing, and your guy gives up nothing, and you play until those guys come out."

Fernandez left the game after seven innings, and the Pirates went to work against closer A.J. Ramos in the ninth. They loaded the bases for Gregory Polanco, whose deep fly ball to center field landed in Ozuna's glove on the warning track.

Polanco's sacrifice fly put the Pirates on the board, and they remain the only team in the Majors to not be shut out this season. But it wasn't enough, as Ramos recovered to record the last two outs.

"He just missed it. That shows the resilience of our team, man," Harrison said. "Ninth inning, still able to get guys on base and have a chance to win the game or go into extra innings -- that's all you can ask for, fight until the last out."

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.