PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates got a solid performance out of their ace on Friday night at PNC Park, but Phillies rookie Zach Eflin answered with a gem of his own, throwing his first career shutout in a 4-0 win over Gerrit Cole at PNC Park.
Eflin efficiently mowed down the Pirates' lineup, needing only 100 pitches to get through his second complete game in his last four starts, a three-hit masterpiece in which he outdueled Cole. He benefitted from some impressive outfield defense by center fielder Odubel Herrera and right fielder Peter Bourjos, but he also induced eight groundouts and struck out six batters without a walk. He faced 29 batters, two more than the minimum, and retired 20 of the Pirates' last 21 hitters.
"[Eflin] was, for lack of a better word, filthy tonight," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "He got ahead of people, great movement on his fastball, good slider, occasional changeup, occasional curveball, but he pounded the strike zone and just went right after the hitters."
Making his second start since coming off the disabled list due to a strained right triceps, Cole looked more like himself. The right-hander held the Phillies to one run and struck out seven over six innings. The Pirates' bullpen couldn't hold the Phillies' lead at one, as Arquimedes Caminero surrendered another run in the seventh inning and Cameron Rupp ripped a two-run shot off Jonathon Niese in the ninth.
"The guy threw the ball really well," Cole said. "He did a nice job keeping us off balance and inducing early contact. His pitch count was in fantastic shape all night."
The win snapped Philadelphia's six-game losing skid at PNC Park. The Pirates couldn't make up any ground in either the National League Central race, in which they are 9 1/2 games behind the division-leading Cubs, or the NL Wild Card standings, in which they are behind the Mets and Cardinals and three games out of the second spot.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED It just felt right: In the sixth inning, Rupp singled on a line drive to right fielder Gregory Polanco, scoring Herrera and giving the Phillies a 1-0 lead. Andres Blanco later drove in Herrera with a single to right field, pulling ahead 2-0.
Consider this a warning: After striking out the Phillies' first two batters, Cole plunked Maikel Franco in the left wrist with a fastball. In the bottom of the first, Eflin responded by sending a fastball into Andrew McCutchen's backside. Home-plate umpire Tony Randazzo immediately issued warnings in the direction of Eflin and both dugouts. Franco left the game -- for "precautionary reasons," the Phillies announced -- during the fourth inning. He was replaced by third baseman Blanco. After the game, Mackanin said X-rays had come back negative.
Could've been worse: Cole loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth, and Rupp's single broke the scoreless tie while keeping the bases loaded. Cole struck out the next two batters, Cody Asche and Freddy Galvis, then got Cesar Hernandez to fly out to center field to end the inning and limit the damage to one run.
"Very good job in the sixth inning to finish that off," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. More >
Life is Rupp: Rupp sent a two-run shot to right center in the ninth inning, making it 4-0 and adding cushion to the Phillies' lead. Rupp went 2-for-4 with three RBIs.
"He's one of my favorite pitchers right now." -- Mackanin, on Eflin finding a rhythm
"You guys got a good, long look at him as well. You got nine innings of him." -- Hurdle, asked what made Eflin so effective and efficient
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Eflin is the fourth-fastest Phillies pitcher since 1914 to toss a 9-inning shutout on 100 pitches or fewer. Don Newcombe did so in 1949 in his second career start, as did Stan Williams in 1958. Jerome Williams did it in his sixth start.
WHAT'S NEXT Phillies: Right-hander Aaron Nola (5-8, 4.41 ERA) will start for the Phillies at 4:05 p.m. ET on Saturday at PNC Park, aiming for his first win since June 5. Nola registered three losses and a 10.42 ERA in June.
Pirates: Top prospect Tyler Glasnow is expected to make his second start and home debut for the Pirates as they continue their three-game series with the Phillies. Glasnow made his Major League debut on July 7 in St. Louis, giving up four runs on three hits while striking out five over 5 1/3 innings.