Pirates rookie Gerrit Cole (7-7; 3.48 ERA) pitched seven innings of three-hit baseball, and Pedro Alvarez drove in the game’s only run on Monday night, and the Pittsburgh Pirates (82-61) ensured themselves of their first winning season since 1992 with a 1-0 road victory over the Texas Rangers.
The win, which snapped a four-game Pittsburgh losing streak, marked the Pirates’ pitching staff’s 16th shutout of the year. The Bucs moved to within one game of the idle first place St. Louis Cardinals, and one game ahead of third-place Cincinnati, who lost a 2-0 decision to the Chicago Cubs.
Cole allowed only three separate two-out singles, and walked two batters while striking out a personal best nine hitters. He outdueled Rangers ace Yu Darvish, combining with Tony Watson, who posted his 14th straight scoreless relief appearance with a perfect eighth inning and Mark Melancon, who earned his 12th save.
Darvish (12-8; 2.84 ERA) left with cramping problems after pitching seven innings. He allowed one run and four hits, struck out six hitters and walked one. Darvish is 0-3 in his last five starts, games which were all losses for the Rangers (81-62).
The game’s lone run scored in the top of the seventh inning when Marlon Byrd and Alvarez combined for back-to-back doubles. Alvarez leads the Pirates with 88 RBI’s. Andrew McCutchen recorded two of the Bucs’ six hits, and is now batting .324.
In the second game of the three-game series in Arlington, Pittsburgh is expected to start their ace Francisco Liriano (15-7; 2.98) against Texas rookie Martin Perez (9-3; 3.41 ERA).