Home Pittsburgh Sports College Football Cole and Cervelli lead Pirates to Game 1 win

Cole and Cervelli lead Pirates to Game 1 win

Francisco Cervelli’s grand slam and seven strong innings from Gerrit Cole lead the Pirates to a 8-2 win in the first half a day-night doubleheader against the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday, keeping a division title within reach.

“We needed to win…it was intense,” Cole said.

Cole went seven innings of two run ball, scattering seven hits along the way to his 19th win (19-8). While he did not walk a batter, he was only able to record two strikeouts, which is tied for his season low.

“He pitched well today,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “It wasn’t about swing and miss, it wasn’t about bearing down. It was about pitching with his pitches, getting quick outs, managing the game [and] navigating the lineup.”

Cardinals’ starter Michael Wacha’s (17-7) September struggles continued, as his ERA for the month rose to 7.88 after surrendering six runs in four innings.

The Pirates snapped a 20-inning scoreless streak in the bottom of the second when Neil Walker drove a solo shot over the Clemente wall to give the Bucs a quick 1-0 lead. After retiring the first nine he faced, Cole ran into trouble for the only time in the top of the fourth when Matt Carpenter opened the inning with a double. After Jony Jay bunted him to third, Matt Holliday rolled a ground ball just passed a drawn-in Jordy Mercer to tie it at one.

Jason Heyward then bounced a slow roller to Walker at second, and after making Holliday commit to being in no man’s land, he recorded the out at first, giving the Pirates a chance at the double-play. But Alvarez’s throw to second was wild and wound up in Starling Marte’s mit, allowing the inning to continue. Jhonny Peralta appeared to take advantage of the miscue with a single, but Gregory Polanco gunned down Holliday at home with a perfect throw to keep the score deadlocked.

That tie did not last long, as the Pirates loaded the bases with an Andrew McCutchen single and a pair of walks for Francisco Cervelli, who crushed his second career grand slam into the leftfield bleachers to make it 5-1. Polanco added an rbi double later in the inning, scoring Jordy Mercer to make it 6-1.

“[Cervelli was] probably the MVP regardless of the grand slam today,” Cole said. “He called a fantastic game.”

Carpenter opened the sixth with a moonshot into the river on the hop to make it 6-2, but that was the last blemish on Cole’s afternoon. Mercer got that run back in the home half of the inning when he laced an rbi single to score Cervelli and extend the lead back to five.

In the eighth, Adam Wainwright made his first appearance since suffering a torn Achilles in April, allowing one run bottom of the 8th, it coming from a Josh Harrison double and rbi single from Polanco. That proved to be the last run of the game, with Jared Hughes recording a clean top of the ninth in a non-save situation to end the contest and keep St. Louis from celebrating a division title on their field.

“We’re still in pursuit,” Hurdle said.Pirates Gerrit Cole

Charlie Morton (9-4, 4.54) will oppose lefty Tyler Lyons (2-1, 3.96) in the second half of the day-night doubleheader Wednesday at 7:05. Thursday will be an off day before the Pirates host the Reds in the final series of the regular season.

1. At the end of the day game, the Pirates’ record against the Cardinals stands at 9-9. They have a losing record to every other team in the division.

2. Polanco recorded his 12th assist in the fourth and his second in as many days. He leads all NL right fielders in assists (the next closest in Jay Bruce with 11). It’s also the second most in the NL, only behind Marte’s 15.

3. Wednesday is PNC Park’s third day-night doubleheader in its history. Two of them have come in the last two weeks (September 15 against Chicago).

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