PITTSBURGH -- Last weekend in Cincinnati, Gerrit Cole shut out the Reds for seven innings to spark a series victory for the Pirates. The Reds got even Friday night, jumping out to an early lead against Cole and cruising to a 7-3 win at PNC Park.
The first four Reds hitters reached safely in the first inning to build up a three-run lead over Cole, who surrendered five runs on six hits and three walks over six innings. It was a reversal of last Saturday, when Cole beat Cincinnati for the first time in his career with a strong showing on the mound and a home run off Luis Castillo. The defeat ended an impressive stretch for Cole in which he went 5-1 with a 3.17 ERA and the Bucs won seven of his 10 outings.
Cole said he was pleased with all but two of his 101 pitches on the night, and both came in the first inning. Billy Hamilton singled on the first, and after a walk by Zack Cozart and Joey Votto's double, Adam Duvall smacked a two-run double on the other.
"We know that Cole has pitched really well. Especially the last game against us, he shuts us out," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "For Billy to lead off with a base hit, be able to steal a base, gets to third, now all of a sudden we've got a runner at third, nobody out, Cozart, Votto, etc. coming up. … We end up scoring three and put ourselves in good position."
Cole allowed two more runs on the night, but he was more impressed with the Reds' hitting than he was upset with himself for allowing the tallies. He credited Scooter Gennett, who finished 3-for-4, for his third-inning RBI single and sixth-inning triple as well as Eugenio Suarez, who slapped a slider outside the strike zone for a sacrifice fly.
"Those marks happen throughout the game," Cole said. "Really, the first inning with the two mistakes was kind of the big blow."
Castillo, who gave up three hits and struck out nine in his last meeting with Pittsburgh, held the Pirates to a pair of second-inning runs and retired the final eight hitters he faced. He needed 89 pitches to complete four innings, however, and Price decided against sending Castillo back out for the fifth.
"He told me he didn't want me to throw, like, 100 pitches because I have one more outing after this one," Castillo said through an interpreter.
"We've been challenged to score runs here lately," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Seeing pitches, yeah. Doing some damage is where we're coming up short."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Quick start: The first inning has been an issue for Cole at times this season, as he entered Friday having allowed 15 of the 76 runs scored against him in the first inning. The Reds got to him quickly on Friday, too. Hamilton singled, stole second and reached third on an error by Chris Stewart. Cozart walked, then Votto and Duvall smacked back-to-back doubles to give the Reds a 3-0 lead four batters into the game. Cole allowed only three hits in five innings after that.
"I just thought his fastball command wasn't where he wanted it to be or where he needed it to be," Hurdle said. "Everything just tightened up and got sharp. … He got back in a really good place."
Nearly robbed:Andrew McCutchen has done little to hide the fact that there are two items on his personal baseball bucket list: a grand slam and a true home-run robbery. He nearly checked the second box in the sixth inning. Gennett ripped a fly ball to center field, and McCutchen glided back toward the wall. McCutchen leaped as the ball struck the top of the wall, nearly clutching the ball in his glove, but it rolled away for a leadoff triple. Gennett quickly scored on a sacrifice fly by Suarez.
"I've leaped on top of that wall countless amount of times and stuck my glove up. That's the first time I actually put some leather on it," McCutchen said. "I just got up a split-second too late. If I was up a little earlier, I probably would have caught it. Literally a split-second late. But I kept it in the ballpark, so at least I've got that going for me. … It was a close one. It definitely would have been a top one for me if I was able to catch that."
"If I left him in there, it was to try to get him a win at the expense of jacking up a high pitch count toward the end of his season. He doesn't have many innings left. … It was a tough call because the kid's got two wins on the year and he's pitched beautifully. I would have loved to seen him get that third win, or at least be in a position to do that, but I just couldn't pull the trigger." -- Price, on pulling Castillo after four innings
"I guess when you look at the whole thing, you take 100 pitches out of tonight and you're really frustrated with two or three of them, you can sit there and dwell on them. … That's not going to help me get going for the next start. You make the mistake, you understand you're going to get stung in this league for that and just keep trying to make better pitches." -- Cole, on isolating his mistakes from what he's doing well
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McCutchen singled to lead off the sixth inning for his 1,435th career hit. That tied him with Dick Groat for 14th place on the Pirates' all-time hit list. Next up is Dave Parker, who is 13th with 1,479 career hits for Pittsburgh.
WHAT'S NEXT Reds: Right-hander Tyler Mahle makes his second Major League start Saturday night against the Pirates at PNC Park following his big league debut a week ago, also against the Bucs. Mahle gave up three earned runs, struck out five and walked four in a 5-2 Pirates win. Saturday's first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.
Pirates: Right-hander Jameson Taillon will look to reverse a rough stretch when he starts Saturday night against the Reds at PNC Park. Taillon has recorded a 7.68 ERA in 43 1/3 innings over his last nine starts dating back to July 15. During that time, Taillon's ERA has climbed from 2.73 to 4.75.