The Pirates try to forget about their most lopsided loss of the season by giving the ball to Cole in the opener of a three-game series against the visiting Colorado Rockies .
Pittsburgh (65-43) came into Thursday with a 3.03 ERA, the best in baseball by more than a quarter-run, after holding St. Louis to seven total in opening a five-game series with four wins.
The wheels came off in the finale, as starter Charlie Morton surrendered five runs in six innings before the bullpen was responsible for an eight-run seventh in a 13-0 loss that cut the Pirates' NL Central lead over the Cardinals to 1 1/2 games.
"We had kept the cat in the bag for four games," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Tonight, we let it out."
Pittsburgh's past two starters allowed a total of 20 hits - the club's worst back-to-back showing this season - and nine earned runs in 10 innings, but there's reason to believe those brief struggles won't continue.
Cole (5-4, 3.56 ERA) won four of his first five starts despite having a 3.94 ERA and striking out just 16 in 29 2-3 innings, but he's been better in his last four starts despite going 1-3. The right-hander has made it through seven innings three times - something he didn't do once in his first five outings - and posted a 3.16 ERA.
He's struck out 21 in 26 innings, including a season-high eight while going seven in Sunday's 3-2 loss at Miami. That impressed his counterpart, young Marlins All-Star Jose Fernandez .
"He's a great pitcher," Fernandez said. "His stuff is good. I saw it hitting, and I didn't like it."
This will be Cole's first look at the Rockies (51-59), and it appears he'll catch at least one big break - if not two. Carlos Gonzalez likely won't play in this series after his sprained right middle finger flared up Wednesday, and fellow All-Star outfielder Michael Cuddyer 's status is unclear after he missed Thursday's game to tend to a family issue.
Cole made his major league debut June 11, the same day Jhoulys Chacin (9-5, 3.54) began to reverse his early season woes. Armed with a 4.59 ERA coming into that outing against Washington, Chacin has since gone 6-2 with a 2.39 ERA in nine starts.
What bodes well for him Friday is how he's excelled away from Coors Field. The right-hander has a 1.90 ERA on the road, a mark that's on pace to surpass his own 2010 ERA (2.44) for the best outside Denver in franchise history.
What's far less encouraging for manager Walt Weiss is Chacin's brief track record against the Pirates. He's 1-3 with a 6.97 ERA in four starts and has allowed four homers in 20 2-3 innings - the same number he's surrendered in 127 innings in 2013 for the majors' best home run per nine innings rate (0.28).
The Rockies have lost four of their last five series in Pittsburgh, but they have to be thrilled to be anywhere but Turner Field after the past four days. The Braves scored at least nine runs each time in a four-game sweep, capping it with Thursday's 11-2 win.
"I'll make sure that we still compete," Weiss said. "I don't question these guys in that respect. ... That's something that is expected all the time."
Colorado has been outscored 123-60 in losing 17 of 23 on the road.
|August 01, 2013||Carlos Gonzalez||Day-to-Day||Sprained right middle finger|
|July 31, 2013||Carlos Gonzalez||Day-to-Day||Sprained right middle finger|
|July 23, 2013||Drew Pomeranz||15-Day DL||Left bicep tendinitis|
|July 15, 2013||Rafael Betancourt||15-Day DL||Appendicitis|
|July 08, 2013||Carlos Gonzalez||Day-to-Day||Sprained finger|
|July 08, 2013||Roy Oswalt||15-Day DL||Strained left hamstring|
|July 28, 2013||Travis Snider||15-Day DL||Left big toe discomfort|
|July 28, 2013||Michael McKenry||15-Day DL||Left knee surgery - out for season|
|July 23, 2013||Jason Grilli||15-Day DL||Strained right forearm|
|July 07, 2013||Neil Walker||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|July 07, 2013||Neil Walker||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|June 09, 2013||A.J. Burnett||15-Day DL||Strained right calf|
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Jhoulys Chacin was determined to eat up innings for his team and its weary bullpen. Absorbing a sharply-hit line drive off his pitching forearm wasn't going to deter him.
Chacin allowed one run on six hits over eight innings and the Colorado Rockies snapped a four-game losing streak with a 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.
Chacin (10-5), who has won seven of his past nine decisions, stayed in the game after a ball off the bat of Starling Marte deflected off his right forearm in the fifth inning.
"I didn't want to come out; I just wanted to keep pitching," said Chain, who lowered his road ERA to 1.78. "It hit me good, but just I moved my hand and it felt fine.
"I really wanted to give the team seven or eight innings at least, so I was trying to do my job and help my bullpen, also. It was nice I was able to do that."
Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki had a solo homer and an RBI single, and Todd Helton had a two-run single 16 years to the day after making his major-league debut in the same city.
The Rockies were coming off being outscored 40-13 by Atlanta in a four-game sweep at Turner Field. They won despite their lineup missing two of their best hitters for the second consecutive game - Michael Cuddyer is away on a family emergency and Carlos Gonzalez did not enter the game until in the eighth inning as a defensive replacement after aggravating a sprained right middle finger on Wednesday night.
After Friday's game, Gonzalez expressed doubt he'd be ready to return to the lineup by Saturday but was encouraged it could happen Sunday.
Neil Walker had two doubles for the Pirates (65-44), who came in with the best record in the majors.
Pittsburgh has been outscored 17-2 in losing its past two after taking over the best record in the NL with four straight wins over the St. Louis Cardinals this week.
The Pirates scored in the ninth with consecutive one-out doubles by Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez off temporary closer Rex Brothers . But Russell Martin flied out to deep center and pinch-hitter Gaby Sanchez lined out to right to end it, earning Brothers his eighth save in nine opportunities.
"The scoreboard dictated the situation and what I was throwing," Brothers said. "We had a three-run lead so I threw a lot of fastballs so they could put it in play."
Pirates rookie Gerrit Cole (5-5) needed 102 pitches to make it through 5 1-3 innings, allowing three runs on three hits and two walks with six strikeouts. Cole dropped to 1-5 since winning his first four major league starts.
"He came out of the chute good - then at times it seemed that he couldn't put away the hitters because all the foul balls extended innings," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He ran a lot of deeper counts that extended his pitch count. He didn't allow much damage to be done, though."
Chacin is 7-2 with a 2.24 ERA since June 11 - the same day as Cole's debut.
Chacin retired the final 14 he faced - the last nine coming after Marte's line drive deflected off his forearm to shortstop Tulowitzki, who threw to first to complete the putout.
Chacin grimaced and shook his arm, but appeared to tell catcher Wilin Rosario , manager Walt Weiss and a member of the training staff that he was fine. Chacin retreated from the dugout into the tunnel after the inning ended but returned for the bottom of the sixth following a lengthy wait because his team sent eight men to the plate and scored three runs in the top half.
"That thing hit him square, and I thought he might be done," Colorado manager Walt Weiss said. "And he goes out there and gives us three more innings. Really an impressive showing.
"This year, we gave him the responsibility of being a top-of-the-rotation guy, and he's taken it and he's run with it."
NOTES: Before the game, the Pirates swapped out a pair of relievers when they reinstated RHP Jared Hughes from the disabled list and optioned RHP Vic Black to Triple-A Indianapolis. ... The paid attendance of 37,487 was the 10th sellout at PNC Park this season ... This was the season's first meeting between the teams; each has now played every NL team. ... Helton went 2-for-4 with a home run while batting fifth and playing left field for the Rockies in his first game in the majors Aug. 2, 1997, at Three Rivers Stadium. ... He's 14 innings short of qualifying for the league leaders, but Saturday Pittsburgh starter LHP Francisco Liriano (11-4, 2.16) would rank second in the NL in ERA if he did. Rockies counterpart LHP Jorge De La Rosa (10-5, 3.21) allowed a season-high five runs in his most recent outing for Colorado.