Gerrit Cole became just the fifth pitcher in the last fifty years to win his first two starts for Pittsburgh, receiving help from home runs by Pedro Alvarez and Alex Presley on Sunday in a 6-3 home win for the Pirates over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Cole (2-0; 3.75 ERA) joins Josh Fogg, Tim Wakefield, Jose DeLeon and Jim Nelson in achieving the feat. He worked 5-and-two-thirds innings, allowed 3 runs and 7 hits, struck out a batter and walked none. Justin Wilson, Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli combined on 3-and-a-third innings of scoreless relief. Grilli earned his 25th save, keeping him tied for the Major League lead in that category.
Alvarez slammed his 15th homer, a three-run-shot, Presley went 3-for-4 with a solo homer, and Garrett Jones recorded a two-run double. Jones and Jordy Mercer both contributed two of the Pirates’ 10 hits.
Andre Ethier tallied a pair of RBI singles for the Dodgers (28-39), Tim Federowicz drove in a run with a ground ball, and Yasiel Puig went 3-for-4 to raise his batting average to .479 (23-for-48) in his first 12 Major League games. Los Angeles starter Zack Greinke (3-2; 4.22 ERA) took the loss after throwing 104 pitches through five innings. Greinke surrendered five runs on eight hits, with three strikeouts and two walks.
The Pirates (41-28) won their third straight series, taking two of three from the Dodgers. Pittsburgh’s loss came in a 5-3, 11-inning game on Saturday. Juan Uribe and Nick Punto drove in two runs off Pirates reliever Vin Mazzaro (3-1; 3.07 ERA) in the 11th inning, spoiling a spot starter for the Bucs’ Brandon Cumpton (4-4; 3.31 ERA at “AAA” Indianapolis). Cumpton struck out five of the first six batters he faced, worked five-plus innings, allowed three runs and seven hits, struck out five hitters and walked only one. With the performance, Cumpton earned a second start, which should come Thursday afternoon in Cincinnati.
Ethier, Scott Schumaker and Mark Ellis also drove home runs for the Dodgers. Travis Snider forced extra innings with a ninth-inning homer for the Pirates. Neil Walker and Russell Martin also recorded RBI’s.
Pittsburgh won Friday’s series opener 3-0 on the strength of their pitching staff’s 11th combined shutout of the season. Jeff Locke (6-1; 2.19 ERA), Melancon (20th hold) and Grilli (24th save) combined on the win. Each hurler allowed two hits, and they combined for nine strikeouts.
On Monday night, the Pirates will start a 9-game road trip with the first of four contests against the Reds (42-28) in Cincinnati. Pittsburgh’s Francisco Liriano (5-2; 2.36 ERA) will face the Reds’ Mike Leake (6-3; 2.76 ERA) in the opener. The trip will also take the Pirates to Anaheim and to Seattle for a pair of interleague series.
A two-run double by Andrew McCutchen and a sacrifice fly by Walker provided the Bucs’ runs. McCutchen and Puig both finished with two hits.