Fans grab a home run ball hit by the Rockies' Troy Tulowitzki off the Pirates' Gerrit Cole in the second inning at PNC Park Friday night.
The Pirates' Gerrit Cole pitches against the Rockies in the first inning at PNC Park Friday night.
The Pirates' Andrew McCutchen hits a single, scoring Startling Marte against the Rockies in the third inning at PNC Park Friday night.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle takes starter Gerrit Cole out of the game against the Rockies in the sixth inning at PNC Park Friday night.
By Bill Brink Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Clint Hurdle got the result he wanted. Unfortunately, it worked better for the Colorado Rockies.
Facing a jam in the sixth inning, Hurdle pulled starter Gerrit Cole and went to the bullpen. The Pirates forced weak contact, but everything else went the Rockies' way Friday night in a 4-2 Pirates loss in front of a sellout crowd of 37,487 at PNC Park.
The win ended a four-game losing streak for the Rockies, who entered the game having lost eight of their past 11 games. Other than a home run from Troy Tulowitzki, the Rockies capitalized on singles, walks and wild pitches to take a decisive sixth-inning lead.
The Pirates lost their second game in a row after taking the first four games of a five-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
"I just felt like we played a good game," Cole said. "We just didn't string hits together at the right times early."
Cole (5-5) allowed three runs in 51/3 innings, two of them scoring after he left the game in the sixth. He walked two and struck out six. The Rockies bled him to death with foul balls, driving his pitch count to a career-high 102.
"I didn't give them a whole lot to work with, but they got enough," Cole said.
With the score tied, 1-1, after five innings, a leadoff walk to Dexter Fowler burned Cole in the sixth. Fowler stole second and went to third on Corey Dickerson's single, which brought Tulowitzki to the plate.
Hurdle decided to remove Cole in favor of the left-handed Justin Wilson. Wilson's career numbers against right-handers and left-handers are almost identical.
"Wilson's been very effective," Hurdle said. "He's the most-rested reliever we had."
Hurdle got the desired result: a short chopper between the mound and first base. Wilson and Garrett Jones converged on it, but Neil Walker couldn't reach first base in time. A run scored, and everyone was safe.
"Once it was up in the air, the run was going to score no matter what," Hurdle said.
Wilson threw a wild pitch to move both runners into scoring position. Todd Helton's single up the middle scored two runs, giving the Rockies a 4-1 lead.
Pirates pitchers threw four wild pitches in the game, all of them allowing runners to advance and all of them in similar locations. Hurdle said Russell Martin's left knee, which he tweaked last weekend in Miami, was not bothering him behind the plate.
"I just think it was him having to keep moving around," Hurdle said. "He wasn't complaining of anything."
Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin (10-5) allowed one run and six hits in eight innings, striking out three without walking a batter. He threw 70 of his 96 pitches for strikes.
"His command was electric," Hurdle said. "He threw everything for strikes. Everything."
In Chacin's previous nine starts, he had allowed more than three runs only once and pitched into the sixth in all but one start. He had a 2.39 ERA in 601/3 innings over that span.
"His two-seamer has been his bread and butter," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said before the game. "He's really been pounding the bottom of the zone with his two-seam fastball. He's got a really good changeup and he's got a nice slider for right-handed hitters that he can miss bats with."
Starling Marte lined a ball off Chacin's right arm in the fifth, but Chacin stayed in the game.
Cole hung a 3-2 slider to Tulowitzki to lead off the second, and Tulowitzki lined it over the wall in left field for his 20th homer and a 1-0 lead.
Marte got a break that helped the Pirates tie the score in the third. He chopped a grounder to Tulowitzki at short. Tulowitzki bare-handed it, but couldn't get a handle on it, and Marte was safe at first.
Neil Walker hit his second double of the game, putting runners on second and third. Andrew McCutchen lined a single to right to score Marte and make the score 1-1.
McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez hit consecutive singles off Rex Brothers in the ninth to pull the Pirates within two runs, but Brothers earned his eighth save.