Alvarez homer triggers winning outburst for Pirates
Gerrit Cole scuffled in the first three innings Sunday, and the Cleveland Indians built a three-run lead. The Pirates right-hander stomped on the mound, clearly vexed.
It looked bleak for the Pirates in the fourth, when left fielder Starling Marte was forced out with what the team termed as discomfort in his left side.
“Not every game is going to go your way,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “Not every game is going to be fair. Things are going to happen. That’s when it’s time to grow up and pitch.”
Cole transformed back into an unhittable ace. Pedro Alvarez homered to trigger a five-run fifth inning. And the Pirates overtook the Indians, 5-3.
“When you’re making pitches and stuff doesn’t go your way, that can easily get you frustrated — but it shouldn’t get you off your game,” Cole said. “If you keep making pitches, you give your team a chance. We needed to put our foot down … and that’s what happened.”
Cole (12-3) pitched eight innings and gave up three runs and five hits, walked one and struck out five. He is the fifth pitcher in Pirates history to notch a dozen wins before the All-Star break.
The National League roster for the All-Star Game will be revealed Monday night. Cole certainly will be on the list and should be a candidate to start the contest.
“It would be pretty special,” Cole said. “It would be a very cool honor, and I’d be very excited.”
Indians right-hander Danny Salazar (7-4) was nearly untouchable through the first four innings, allowing one hit and striking out seven.
Marte grabbed his left side after a swinging strike in the fourth inning. He spoke briefly with a trainer and resumed his at-bat. But after seeing two more pitches, Marte was replaced by Gregory Polanco.
Marte likened this injury to one he suffered in August 2012, when he strained his right oblique in a game against the St. Louis Cardinals and wound up on the 15-day disabled list.
“It’s a muscle,” Marte said. “I wanted to stay in the game, but I couldn’t. We’ll see (Monday) if everything’s OK.”
Jung Ho Kang began the fifth inning by poking a one-handed single into left field.
“It was an off-balance swing, but I put it in a good spot,” Kang said.
Alvarez followed with a blast into the left-field bleachers. It was Alvarez’s 12th home run of the season and the first that was not a solo shot.
Chris Stewart singled. Josh Harrison’s infield single put runners on the corners with two outs. Neil Walker lined an RBI single to left-center to tie it, 3-3.
Andrew McCutchen hit a double off the center-field wall to score Harrison and Walker.
“I never faced (Salazar) before, and he showed me something different in the first two at-bats,” McCutchen said. “After I saw him, I kind of knew what he had, what his fastball does, what his slider and his changeup do. I just went out ready to hit.”
The Indians took a 2-0 lead in the second inning. Carlos Santana, lugging a .208 batting average, drew a five-pitch, leadoff walk. Brandon Moss dropped a single into center field.
After a double play, the Indians had Santana on third and the bottom third of their lineup coming up.
Michael Bourn, a .208 hitter with runners in scoring position, lofted an RBI single just over the reach of first baseman Alvarez.
Bourn got a huge jump — pin that on Cole — and stole second base with ease. Stewart’s throw sailed into center field, so Bourn went to third. Bourn scored when Roberto Perez, batting .216, bounced a single between third and short.
Jason Kipnis began the third with a double. He was sacrificed to third and scored on Michael Brantley’s single.
After Brantley’s hit, Cole retired the final 16 he faced.
“He stayed focused the whole time,” Stewart said. “He never gives in. No matter what the score is, he’s not going to let it dictate what he does on the mound.”