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Pirates continue rare winning ways with 10-3 rout of Brewers

The SportsXchange

PITTSBURGH - The Pirates are on their longest winning streak in nine years, which is fairly impressive.

They are 19 games over .500 for the first time in 21 years, also impressive.

What Pittsburgh rookie right-hander Gerrit Cole did Friday was perhaps most impressive. He became the first Pirates pitcher to win his first four career starts since Nick Maddox in 1907 in a 10-3 rout of the Milwaukee Brewers at PNC Park.

Cole, the first overall pick in the 2011 amateur draft, shared the credit.

"It's really a team effort," Cole said. "I've pitched pretty well but I've gotten a lot of support defensively and our offense has been very opportunistic. It feels good to say I'm 4-0 but it feels even better because the team is playing well."

The Pirates are indeed playing well, winning seven in a row for their longest streak since reeling off 10 straight in 2004. The Pirates improved to 49-30, the most games they have been above .500 since finishing 96-66 in 1992. Pittsburgh hasn't had a winning season since, the 20 consecutive sub.-.500 standing as a record in all of major North American professional team sports. Perhaps that is why the Pirates aren't getting wrapped up in their success.

"It's just one game we don't have to win later," Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen said.

"We're just focused on winning that day," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. "Our guys are very focused on taking it pitch to pitch."

Cole (4-0) gave up three runs in the first inning, but no more, as he made it through six innings, allowing eight hits with three walks and three strikeouts.

Ryan Reid pitched three scoreless innings for his first major-league save. He made his major-league debut June 3 after spending seven seasons in the minor leagues.

"It's special," Reid said with a smile. "It feels good to not only get a chance to pitch in the major league but help keep this team winning."

Johnny Hellweg (0-1) failed to get out of the second inning in his major league debut, giving up seven runs - five earned - in 1 2/3 innings.

"I thought it was very important to start off with a good pace but I found myself speeding up quite a bit," Hellweg said. "I kind of let things get out of control."

Pittsburgh's Starling Marte had a double and triple among his three hits, and just missed a home run in the eighth when he flied out to deep center field.

Andrew McCutchen had three hits, including his ninth home run, and three RBIs for Pittsburgh. Pedro Alvarez added two hits to run his hitting streak to 11 games and Neil Walker hit a two-run double to start a seven-run second inning in which the Pirates sent 12 batters to the plate.

Carlos Gomez, who missed the previous three games with a sprained right shoulder, had two hits for the Brewers along with Jean Segura and Juan Francisco.

After being staked to a 3-0 lead then retiring the side in order of the bottom of the first inning, Hellweg's debut turned into a nightmare when the Pirates scored seven runs in the second while sending 12 batters to the plate.

Walker's double drew the Pirates with 3-2 and an RBI single by Marte tied it.

Russell Martin followed with a grounder up the middle with the bases loaded that Segura, the shortstop, misplayed for an error that enabled Cole and Snider to score. McCutchen and Alvarez capped the inning with RBI singles to put the Pirates on top 7-3 and knocked Hellweg from the game.

"Johnny didn't really have good stuff," Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said. "He was aiming the ball and just trying to get it over the plate, which happens sometimes in a guy's first time out."

The Brewers scored a run off Cole in the first before he retired a batter as Aramis Ramirez was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. A second run scored when Jonathan Lucroy grounded into a double play and Francisco's run-scoring single made it 3-0.

The Pirates pushed their lead to 8-3 in the third when Marte hit a two-out RBI double.

The Pirates added on in the later innings. Marte tripled and scored on McCutchen's double in the sixth, and McCutchen hit his ninth home run in the eighth off Michael Gonzalez.

NOTES: Milwaukee 1B Cory Hart will miss the rest of the season because of cartilage damage in his left knee and is scheduled for surgery July 26. He had been on the disabled list since the start of the regular season after undergoing right knee surgery in January. ... Pirates RF Travis Snider left after the sixth inning with a bruised left foot. ... Brewers RHP Hiram Burgos was activated from the 15-day disabled list and optioned to Triple-A Nashville. He had been out since May 24 with a right shoulder impingement. ... Pittsburgh recalled INF/OF Josh Harrison from Triple-A Indianapolis and optioned C Tony Sanchez to the same club. ... Hellweg became the eighth Brewers player to make his major-league debut this season. ... Milwaukee RHP Donovan Hand will make his second major-league start Saturday night, facing Pittsburgh LHP Francisco Liriano.

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