I know that he's really only emerged over his last two starts, but suddenly I'm not sure that there's any Pirate pitcher that I feel more comfortable with on the mound than Gerrit Cole. Cole got into some trouble in the first inning tonight and got partially bailed out by the defense behind him, then he shut the Cubs down over the next six innings. In the first inning, he gave up two hits and a walk. In the next six, he gave up three hits and two walks, total, to go with the seven batters he struck out. He again had three pitches going, and he only got himself into one more jam the rest of the night.
That was in the seventh, just after the Pirates tied the game at one on a Jose Tabata homer, when he walked Brian Bogusevic and then gave up a single to Wellington Castill to start the inning. After Darwin Barney batted the runners over, Cole deperately needed a strikeout of pinch-hitter Dioner Navarro. After four straight sliders on the outside part of the plate to set up a 2-2 count, Cole blew a nasty 96 mph fastball past an unsuspecting Navarro for the K. Three pitches later, Starlin Castro bounced into an inning-ended groundout. Two batters after that, Marlon Byrd launched the game-winning homer into the right-center field grandstand.
With the win and the 4-1 Cardinal loss to the Brewers, the Pirates are back in a first place tie in the NL Central.