Gerrit Cole wins MLB-best 11th as Pirates top White Sox 3-2
CHICAGO (AP) Gerrit Cole downplayed becoming the majors' first 11-game winner by crediting his Pittsburgh Pirates teammates for his terrific start.
Cole allowed two runs and three hits in seven innings and the Pirates beat the struggling Chicago White Sox 3-2 on Thursday night to extend their winning streak to a season-high eight games.
''It's a testament to how well we've played when I take the mound,'' Cole said. ''It's more of a team stat than an individual stat.''
Win No. 11 was certainly a team effort.
Cole (11-2) has won each of his last six starts, but it looked as if he would receive a no-decision after the White Sox rallied to tie the score at two in the bottom of the seventh inning.
The Pirates, though, answered with a run in the top of the eighth - Jung Ho Kang scored on an infield groundout by Gregory Polanco - to put Cole on the plus-side again.
''That's huge,'' Cole said. ''It shows we're grinding out at-bats and we're staying ready every pitch.''
Kang went 2-for-5 with an RBI and the run scored, and Josh Harrison and Polanco each drove in a run for Pittsburgh. The Pirates, who also won 3-2 Wednesday, have won seven times in their last 11 games while scoring three runs or less. Manager Clint Hurdle said that statistic shows how well they've pitched during that stretch.
''The length has been so good from the starters and the run totals have been small,'' Hurdle said. ''The bullpen has come in and closed things down. There's no question the pitching has been the strength of everything we're doing.''
Geovany Soto hit a solo home run for Chicago, which has dropped a season-high seven games.
Jake Petricka (1-2) took the loss in relief of starter Jeff Samardzija, who allowed two runs and 10 hits in seven innings and remained winless in his last five starts.
''I wanted to come out there and have a good strong outing and give our team a chance to win,'' Samardzija said. ''Unfortunately, it didn't turn out that way, but we fought out there, played tough and we were going against a pretty darn good pitcher in Cole.''
The Pirates took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning on an infield single by Kang that scored Starling Marte from third base. But the White Sox tied it in the bottom half of the inning. Jose Abreu led off with a little flare down the right-field line for a double, advanced to third on a fly ball to deep center by Adam LaRoche and scored on a sacrifice fly by Melky Cabrera.
Pittsburgh reclaimed the lead in the fifth inning. With one out, Jordy Mercer hit a hard grounder up the middle. Samardzija knocked it down at his feet, but couldn't find it right away and that was long enough for Mercer to leg out the infield hit.
Mercer then went to third on a single to right by Corey Hart and scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Harrison to make it 2-1.
That's where it stayed until the bottom of the seventh when Soto tied the game with a long homer to left-center on a 3-2 pitch. With two outs and none on, Soto connected on a 98 mph fastball from Cole. It was Soto's fourth homer of the season and came on Cole's 103rd pitch.
''For him to be that close to getting out of the inning and giving up the homer, that's baseball,'' Hurdle said. ''Our guys had the wherewithal to pick him up and scratch one back in the eighth inning to go ahead.''
Pirates: 2B Neil Walker wasn't in the lineup because of a stomach ailment. ... RHP Jameson Taillon, the team's No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft who is coming back from Tommy John surgery, had a five-inning, 74-pitch outing Thursday in extended spring training.
Pirates: Open a three-game series at Washington on Friday. Veteran RHP A.J. Burnett (6-2, 1.89 ERA), who had a no-decision in his last start despite tossing nine scoreless innings, will be matched against RHP Joe Ross (1-3, 3.46).
White Sox: The homestand continues as Chicago hosts the Texas Rangers for a three-game series over the weekend. LHP Chris Sale (6-3, 3.01 ERA) pitches the opener for the White Sox on Friday night against RHP Colby Lewis (6-3, 4.37 ERA) of the Rangers.