WASHINGTON -- Gerrit Cole got back to his winning ways Tuesday night. And he did so in dominant fashion.
Cole allowed just two hits over seven innings as he paced the Pirates to a 5-1 victory against the Nationals at Nationals Park.
After winning his first four career starts, Cole lost three in a row heading into his outing Tuesday as his ERA climbed to 3.89. But he was at his best against the Nationals (48-52), showing excellent command of his fastball with consistent downward movement that kept the ball on the ground.
Of the 16 outs that were hit in play, 10 of them were groundouts.
He allowed one earned run, striking out four and walking one, to improve to 5-3 this season.
He outdueled fellow rookie Taylor Jordan, who pitched well despite taking the loss. He allowed five runs, four earned, on nine hits in 7 2/3 innings.
Jordan was the victim of some sloppy third inning defense as the Pirates (59-39) ran out to a 3-0 lead.
Pedro Alvarez and Russell Martin both smacked singles up the middle of the infield in consecutive at-bats, and Jordan walked Garrett Jones as the Pirates loaded the bases with no outs.
The Pirates then had two consecutive batters hit ground balls that could have been turned into double plays, but the Nationals couldn't convert either.
Jones broke up a double play with a hard slide as Alvarez scored to put the Pirates up 1-0. Then, Jordy Mercer hit into what would have been an inning-ending double play, except Washington second baseman Anthony Rendon dropped the throw from third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.
Martin scored on the play, and all other runners were safe.
Cole added to the rally with his fourth hit and third RBI of the season, a single to left field that drove in Neil Walker from second as the Pirates climbed ahead, 3-0. He added another hit later in the game.
In Cole's eight career games, he has shown himself to be a more than competent hitter on a team where the pitching staff is especially unproductive at the plate. In addition to his three RBIs, he is hitting .357 and has scored three runs with just four strikeouts in 14 at-bats.
The Pirates added a pair of insurance runs in the eighth inning, highlighted by Alvarez's 25th home run of the season and first since the All-Star break. Alvarez went to the opposite field with an 85-mph changeup from Jordan to increase the Pirates' lead to 4-1.
Gaby Sanchez had a pinch-hit RBI single, scoring Martin from third to make it 5-1.
Wilson Ramos cut into the Pirates lead in the third inning with his fifth home run of the year.
Ramos rode a first-pitch fastball over the wall in center field, though Andrew McCutchen nearly made a spectacular play to turn that home run into an out. His leaping try at the wall left him about one foot short of robbing Ramos' home run.
The homer shrunk the Pirates lead to 3-1.mobilehome - breaking - pirates
Michael Sanserino: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1722 and Twitter @msanserino. First Published July 24, 2013 12:30 AM