Gerrit Cole surely couldn't have pictured a much better start to his major league career.
Cole Hamels probably couldn't have imagined a worse one to his season.
Cole (4-0, 3.70 ERA) has been steady if not spectacular, winning every start he's made and allowing three runs or fewer in all of them. The Pirates have scored a whopping 23 runs in his 24 1-3 innings.
"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."
He needed the Pirates (52-31) to play well in his last start after he gave up three first-inning runs to Milwaukee, and they responded with seven runs in the second. Cole went on to pitch six innings and threw a season-high 94 pitches in the 10-3 victory.
The right-hander became the first Pittsburgh pitcher to win his first four big league starts since Nick Maddox in 1907.
While Cole has produced nothing but victories, Hamels (2-11, 4.58) has spent most of the season getting the short end of the stick. The left-hander leads the majors in losses and already has matched the highest total of his eight-year career - 11 defeats in 2009 and 2010.
His teammates helped him avoid surpassing that mark Wednesday, rallying from three runs down to beat San Diego 7-5 after Hamels allowed five runs in six innings.
"The guys really picked me up," said Hamels, who has received just 22 runs of support in his last 11 starts.
He hasn't had much luck against Pittsburgh, either. Though his 1.57 career ERA at PNC Park is his best of any stadium where he's pitched at least 20 innings, he is 0-1 in three starts there. The same trend continued in Philadelphia on April 23 in his first start against Pittsburgh this year, giving up two runs in eight innings of a 2-0 defeat.
Hamels will face an offense that emerged from a brief slump with a four-run fifth inning in a 6-5 victory Wednesday. The Pirates had scored seven runs in their previous 40 innings, including a 3-1 loss in Tuesday's series opener that ended their nine-game win streak.
"I'll tell you what - there's something special going on here," Wednesday's winning pitcher Jeff Locke said. "All the guys pull for each other every night. We're not out of a game, ever."
Russell Martin broke a 3-for-23 skid with an RBI single that tied the game in the fifth, and Pedro Alvarez followed with a three-run homer. Alvarez entered the night 0 for his last 10 with six strikeouts, but he's batting .395 with six homers since June 20.
Brown has three homers and 10 RBIs over his last eight games and could be headed for his first All-Star appearance, but his Phillies (40-45) have lost 15 of 24. They enter Thursday looking to avoid falling a season-high six games under .500.
"I'm thinking about our team and how we can start winning some games," Brown said. "The All-Star Game would be nice but the big thing is to get things turned around here."
The Phillies also hope to avoid a fifth straight series loss at PNC Park.
|June 24, 2013||Ryan Howard||Day-to-Day||Knee|
|June 23, 2013||Michael Stutes||15-Day DL||Right biceps tendinitis|
|June 22, 2013||Jonathan Pettibone||Day-to-Day||Back|
|June 20, 2013||Mike Adams||15-Day DL||Right biceps tendinitis|
|June 16, 2013||Jeremy Horst||15-Day DL||Strained left elbow|
|June 09, 2013||Erik Kratz||15-Day DL||Left knee injury|
|June 09, 2013||A.J. Burnett||15-Day DL||Strained right calf|
|June 06, 2013||Jared Hughes||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|June 06, 2013||Wandy Rodriguez||15-Day DL||Left forearm tightness|
|June 03, 2013||Phil Irwin||60-Day DL||Right arm fatigue|
|June 03, 2013||Jeanmar Gomez||15-Day DL||Right forearm tightness|
|June 03, 2013||Jeanmar Gomez||15-Day DL||Right forearm tightness|
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Cole Hamels insists that leading the major leagues in losses doesn't bother him and he has been able to keep a positive attitude in the most difficult season of his eight-year career.
"I've played a lot of baseball and I've pitched in a lot of games, and I know I'm going to play a lot more baseball and pitch in a lot more games," Hamels said. "I know that my record is just kind of blip on the radar and you have to be who you are."
Hamels looked more like a former World Series MVP on Thursday as he pitched seven strong innings, Carlos Ruiz hit a tiebreaking single and the Phillies beat Gerrit Cole and the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-4 Thursday.
Hamels (3-11) gave up one earned run and five hits, striking out eight without a walk. He won for the first time since June 5.
"It was being able to get back to what I know, which is establish the strike zone early then throw all my pitches," Hamels said. "Ultimately, it was staying down in the zone. That's where I've got hurt in the past, I get guys where I want them and not able to finish them off because I'm getting too many balls up in the zone."
Cole (4-1) lost for the first time in the majors after becoming the first Pirates pitcher to win his first four career starts since Nick Maddox in 1907. Cole allowed three runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings.
"I thought he pitched well," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's a 22-year-old young man. He's still learning, continuing to grow. He's fun to watch."
Hamels received some rare support as the Phillies have scored just 22 runs in his 11 losses.
Ben Revere had three of the Phillies' 13 hits and two RBIs. Ruiz, Jimmy Rollins and Delmon Young each had two hits.
"It's not so much the raw number of hits you have but what you get them," Young said. "We were playing the best team in baseball with the Pirates. Their pitching has been outstanding and their offense has been lagging but they're winning because they hit in the clutch. That's what we did today, and what we need to continue to do."
Jonathan Papelbon worked a perfect ninth inning for his 17th save in 21 opportunities.
Ruiz's two-run single came off Vin Mazzaro in the middle of a four-run sixth inning in which Cole was chased.
Ruiz, who sat out the first 25 games of the season after being suspended by Major League Baseball for testing positive for a banned stimulant, had driven in just four runs all year prior to Thursday.
Cole was removed after Ryan Howard walked with one out and Domonic Brown followed with a single.
Mazzaro, who had not allowed any of his 12 inherited runners to score this season, came on and gave up three straight singles. Young's hit loaded the bases and Kevin Frandsen 's single tied it before Ruiz hit a liner to center to score Brown and Young and put Philadelphia ahead.
Revere capped the inning by driving in a run with a grounder.
"The Pirates have a really good bullpen but I think it made a difference when we were able to get Cole out of the game," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "He's a good pitcher now and he's going to be a real good pitcher. He was tough."
Both teams complained about home plate umpire Chris Conroy's strike zone and Cole seemed particularly upset after the walk to Howard, though he stopped short of being critical when asked about some close calls during that at-bat.
"I made a couple of pitches on the black (of the plate) but those pitches can go either way depending on the judgment,' Cole said. "I felt I made a couple of quality pitches."
Pinch-hitter Michael Young 's sacrifice fly in the eighth extended the Phillies' lead to 6-2.
The Pirates scored twice in the eighth on a pinch-hit RBI single by Garrett Jones and a double-play grounder by Andrew McCutchen .
McCutchen's two-run double in the third opened the scoring. The Phillies cut the deficit to 2-1 on Revere's RBI single in the fifth.
Starling Marte and Jose Tabata each had two hits for Pittsburgh, which has the best record in the majors, but has lost two of three since a nine-game winning streak. Marte ran his hitting streak to nine games.
Philadelphia won for just the 10th time in 25 games as it avoided dropping to a season-worst six games below .500. The Phillies won a series in Pittsburgh for the first time since 2008.
NOTES: Pittsburgh RHP A.J. Burnett is likely to come off the disabled list Sunday and start against the Cubs at Chicago, though Pirates manager Clint Hurdle would prefer the veteran make one minor league rehab start. Burnett, who has been out since June 9 with a strained right calf, insists he does not need to go on a rehab assignment. ... Manuel said he will rest Howard against certain left-handed starters but will not use him in a strict platoon with right-handed hitting John Mayberry Jr. ... Pirates SS Jordy Mercer got the day off after going 1 for 9 in the first two games of the series and making an error on Wednesday night that allowed a run to score. ... The Pirates open their three-game series with the Cubs on Friday with LHP Francisco Liriano (7-3, 2.23) pitching against RHP Jeff Samardzija (5-7, 3.34) ... The Phillies open a three-game home series with Atlanta on Friday night as LHP Cliff Lee (9-2, 2.59) faces RHP Tim Hudson (4-7, 4.22).