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Pirates' Cole shuts down Diamondbacks

The SportsXchange

PITTSBURGH -- Getting four extra days of rest did not hurt Gerrit Cole at all.

The Pittsburgh Pirates rookie right-hander pitched six solid innings Friday night in a 6-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks at PNC Park.

The National League Central-leading Pirates returned home from a 1-5 road trip to Colorado and St. Louis and improved their home record to 42-20. They have won six straight games at PNC Park and 13 of their past 16.

Arizona was coming off a three-game sweep of Baltimore in which all three victories were walk-off wins. However, the Diamondbacks did not have the same magic in Pittsburgh.

Cole had not started since Aug. 8 as the Pirates rearranged their starting rotation to make sure veteran A.J. Burnett started Thursday at St. Louis in a pivotal game against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Pirates also wanted to give the 22-year-old Cole a break -- in only his second season as a pro, Cole already has pitched 140 innings.

Cole (6-5) allowed two runs and five hits while striking out five and walking two. He won for just the second time in his past seven decisions after beginning his career by winning his first four starts. Cole has not given up more than six hits in seven consecutive starts.

Cole said the most difficult part of skipping a turn in the rotation was getting a feel for his slider.

"I threw some good ones but there were others where I wasn't totally committed to trusting it would break," Cole said. "Having more days off is something I've got to attack, though. It's going to happen again. It's something I'm going to have to get used to."

Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson was impressed in his first look at Cole.

"He threw the ball good, moved the ball in and out very good, had good velocity, the ball was moving," Gibson said.

Jose Tabata put the game out of reach with a two-run home run in the eighth inning off J.J. Putz. Tabata's shot gave the Pirates a 6-2 lead.

It was the fourth home run of the season for Tabata, who had been losing his grip on the starting right field job in recent days. Pittsburgh called up slugging outfielder Andrew Lambo from Triple-A Indianapolis on Tuesday and Lambo got the start in three straight games.

"I know people are saying the Pittsburgh Pirates need a right fielder," said Tabata, who is hitting .269. "It makes me feel like I've got to do something. Whatever the front office wants to do, that's their thing. I just want to help my team win."

Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen had two hits each for Pittsburgh, and Pedro Alvarez hit a two-run single in the third inning to open the scoring.

Brandon McCarthy (2-7) lost his fourth straight decision, giving up four runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings with three walks and five strikeouts.

"The whole thing felt like I was in a fight," McCarthy said. "I was able to command my sinker, but that was about it. My cutter was as bad as I can remember it in a long time."

Martin Prado had two of Arizona's five hits.

Pittsburgh took a 4-2 lead with a two-run fifth inning. Neil Walker hit an RBI double off the base of the wall in right-center field to score Marte, who had singled. Walker later scored on McCutchen's RBI single up the middle.

Arizona had tied it at 2-2 in the fourth on run-scoring singles by Prado and A.J. Pollock. However, Cole shut down the Diamondbacks over his final two innings, then Jeamar Gomez and Mark Melancon combined on three scoreless relief innings.

That was a stark contrast for the Diamondbacks, who swept a three-game series from Baltimore by winning each game in walk-off fashion before coming to Pittsburgh.

"Gerrit stayed aggressive and that was the difference," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

NOTES: Arizona RHP Trevor Cahill (3-10, 4.66) is expected to be activated from the disabled list Saturday and start against Pittsburgh LHP Jeff Locke (9-3, 2.43). Cahill has been out since July 1 with a bruised right hip. ... Slumping Diamondbacks SS Didi Gregorius did not start after going 8-for-47 (.170) in his previous 14 games. ... The Pirates signed RHP Kyle Farnsworth to a minor league contract as a free agent and assigned him to Triple-A Indianapolis. The 15-year veteran was released Aug. 9 by Tampa Bay.
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