Cole carries Pirates past Padres

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[April 22, 2016]  SAN DIEGO -- The Pittsburgh Pirates needed a win and someone to throw a lifesaver to their depleted bullpen.

They got both thanks to ace Gerrit Cole, who tossed six scoreless innings as the Pirates defeated the San Diego Padres 11-1 Thursday.

Cole (1-2) allowed four hits, didn't walk a batter and struck out seven as he dominated the Padres to avert a three-game sweep.

With three Pirates relievers unavailable, Cole's performance steadied the pitching staff.

"It's what one of the better pitchers in the game does," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He was in complete command from his first pitch to his last pitch tonight. That was a big shot in the arm for us."

Padres right-hander James Shields (0-3) remains winless after working six innings. He gave up three runs on five hits with two walks. He struck out five while trying to win for the first time since Sept. 20.

Cole, who won his sixth straight road game against a National League West foe, was brilliant as he was finally supported by some offense. In his first two starts, the Pirates failed to score a run during his 12 innings.

Cole, an NL All-Star last year while going 19-8, had more than enough to work with as the Padres' bats were docile after scoring 13 runs in the series' first two games.

"I thought we played excellent defense and we got some runs on the board early that allowed me to find my stuff and kind of hone in," Cole said.

The right-hander knew the relievers needed a blow, and he was happy to provide it.

"To come in and give a quality effort and put us in a position to win is the main focus," Cole said. "But you are always trying to go as deep as you can. but especially in these situations, you try to extend yourself."

The Pirates, victorious for only the fourth time in their past 12 games, padded their 3-0 cushion in the seventh by collecting eight runs against relievers Leonel Campos and Brad Hand. Campos allowed seven runs (five earned) while recording only one out.

Josh Harrison, David Freese and Francisco Cervelli each had two RBIs to pace Pittsburgh while five Pirates had multiple hits.

"It was a big night for Josh," Hurdle said. "We stretched it out later, but between Josh and Cole, they carried the load for us."

Harrison opened the scoring with an RBI single in the second inning after Gregory Polanco doubled. Harrison added an RBI hit in fourth, and he made it 3-0 lead when he scored on a wild pitch.

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San Diego threatened in the fourth when Melvin Upton Jr. singled and stole second with one out. Cole, though, got Alexei Ramirez on a liner and struck out Christian Bethancourt.

The Padres had an opportunity in the third when Adam Rosales singled up the middle and Shields bunted him over to second base. Harrison made a diving stop at second base of Jon Jay's ball that was headed into right field. Jay reached on an infield single, but Rosales was forced to stay at third. Cole wiggled out of the jam by striking out Wil Myers looking.

Shields said working with Bethancourt, the backup catcher, didn't hamper him.

"He puts in a good effort back there," Shields said. "That's all you can ask for. I'm a tough pitcher to call games and catch. I throw almost all of my pitches on both sides of the plate. It's tough, but he did a good job."

Padres manager Andy Green agreed.

"I think James is as difficult as anybody in the game to call a game for," he said. "He's just got so many different weapons."

Hurdle said his hitters knew that but were locked in.

"We wanted to make him elevate," Hurdle said of Shields. "We knew he was going to throw the changeup, fastball and pitch off the fastball a little bit. He was getting his pitches up and getting his pitch count up. I thought the at-bats were very competitive against a very good pitcher."
 

NOTES: The Pirates' bullpen had three players unavailable: RHP Ryan Vogelsong, RHP A.J. Schugel and LHP Kyle Lobstein. ... Pirates LHP Cory Luebke (hamstring) began a rehab assignment Thursday with Triple-A Indianapolis, throwing two scoreless innings. ... Padres LHP Robbie Erlin was placed on the disabled list with a sore left elbow. Erlin (1-1), who had elbow issues in 2014, struggled in his last start. ... RHP Leonel Campos was called up by the Padres from Triple-A El Paso. ... Padres RHP Tyson Ross (shoulder), who is on the disabled list, had an MRI, and the team was awaiting the results.

[ 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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