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Pirates starter Gerrit Cole flips script on Rockies in win

Jerry DiPaola
| Tuesday, June 13, 2017, 10:00 p.m.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has played and managed the game of baseball for too long to be surprised when players struggle.

"This game is going to beat you down if you're a common man," he said Tuesday night after the Pirates' 5-2 victory against the Colorado Rockies. "You have to be an uncommon man in this game."

Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen — two faces of the franchise who helped the Pirates reach three consecutive postseasons earlier this decade — hoisted the Pirates on their shoulders while helping knock the Rockies out of first place in the National League West. The victory in front of 16,764 at PNC Park was a season-high fourth in a row for the Pirates after a four-game losing streak.

Their efforts, supported by pinch-hitter John Jaso's tie-breaking, pinch-hit home run in the seventh inning, were encouraging when compared to their recent trouble.

Cole, who had allowed 39 hits and 23 runs (all earned) over the previous four games, challenged the Rockies with fastballs, changeups and his go-to pitch — the slider — while allowing only three hits and one run in seven innings. He threw 100 pitches, using the last one to dramatically strike out pinch-hitter Alexi Amarista with runners on second and third in the seventh to preserve the 1-1 tie.

"It was fun watching him," Hurdle said.

On the other side of the ball, McCutchen raised his batting average to .396 since moving from the third spot to sixth in the batting order with two home runs — his 10th and 11th of the season.

He didn't promise that he would become a power hitter all of sudden.

"I'm not Aaron Judge," he said of the New York Yankees slugger. "I'm 5-10, 190 pounds."

But he said he's in a good spot, both mentally and in the batting order.

"It has its perks," he said of batting sixth. "You get to relax a little bit, see the pitcher a little more than being in the 3 hole.

"I'm just happy to be feeling good. I don't think too deep into it."

Hurdle was asked if McCutchen's recent surge with the bat might tempt him to move him back to third. Don't count on it.

"He and I have talked," Hurdle said. "He worked with (hitting coach Jeff) Branson on some things, felt he isolated what was the breakdown in his swing.

"Landscape changed, different spot in the lineup, different look. We're just going to leave him where he's hitting the ball well right now. I don't have any concept of why we would move him right now based on the way he's swinging. Just leave him alone."

McCutchen said Cole's best start in nearly a month was welcomed but not unexpected.

"He knows what he's capable of doing," McCutchen said. "More mental than physical, I believe. The physicality of it is there. His fastball is there. His pitches are there.

"It's just about being able to be consistent with that. The more he does that, that's the Gerrit Cole we know."

Jaso, another resurgent Pirate, recorded his sixth pinch-hit of the season in 15 at-bats and raised his average to .373 in his last 19 games after falling below .100 earlier this season.

"He doesn't get caught up in the external noise, the static," Hurdle said. "Anything else that can be brought to this game, he (shows it) no never mind. He just goes out and plays.

"He wasn't really overwhelmed with the start. He kept showing up and kept working."

Which is what the Pirates (30-35) need to do if they hope to start crawling toward the top of the NL Central. They are in fourth place, three games behind the first-place Milwaukee Brewers.

"I just see us sticking to our process and sticking to the things we can control," Cole said, "continuing to hammer out the things that make us good."

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at @tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole delivers during the first inning against the Rockies Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole delivers during the first inning against the Rockies Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
The Pirates' John Jaso rounds the bases after hitting a two-run homer during the seventh inning against the Rockies Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Pirates' John Jaso rounds the bases after hitting a two-run homer during the seventh inning against the Rockies Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole throws during the second inning against the Rockies Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole throws during the second inning against the Rockies Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby throws out the first pitch in front of teammates and the Stanley Cup before the Pirates' game against the Rockies Tueday, June 12, 2017, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby throws out the first pitch in front of teammates and the Stanley Cup before the Pirates' game against the Rockies Tueday, June 12, 2017, at PNC Park.
Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco makes a running catch to rob the Rockies' Charlie Blackmon during the third inning Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco makes a running catch to rob the Rockies' Charlie Blackmon during the third inning Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
The Pirates' John Jaso celebrates his two-run homer with Jordy Mercer during the seventh inning against the Rockies Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Pirates' John Jaso celebrates his two-run homer with Jordy Mercer during the seventh inning against the Rockies Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
Pirates catcher Elias Diaz bats during the fourth inning against the Rockies Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates catcher Elias Diaz bats during the fourth inning against the Rockies Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco hits the wall after making a running catch to rob the Rockies' Charlie Blackmon during the third inning Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco hits the wall after making a running catch to rob the Rockies' Charlie Blackmon during the third inning Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen celebrates his solo home run during the fourth inning against the Rockies Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen celebrates his solo home run during the fourth inning against the Rockies Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
The Rockies' Trevor Story scores past Pirates catcher Elias Diaz during the fifth inning Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Rockies' Trevor Story scores past Pirates catcher Elias Diaz during the fifth inning Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby talks to Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon in the dugout before a game against the Rockies Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby talks to Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon in the dugout before a game against the Rockies Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury hoists the Stanley Cup wearing a Francisco Cervelli jersey, as he exits the Pirates dugout during a visit to the ballpark before a game against the Rockies Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury hoists the Stanley Cup wearing a Francisco Cervelli jersey, as he exits the Pirates dugout during a visit to the ballpark before a game against the Rockies Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury carries the Stanley Cup wearing a Francisco Cervelli jersey, as he exits the Pirates dugout during a visit to the ballpark before a game against the Rockies Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury carries the Stanley Cup wearing a Francisco Cervelli jersey, as he exits the Pirates dugout during a visit to the ballpark before a game against the Rockies Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury carries the Stanley Cup wearing a Francisco Cervelli jersey, as he exits the Pirates dugout during a visit to the ballpark before a game against the Rockies Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury carries the Stanley Cup wearing a Francisco Cervelli jersey, as he exits the Pirates dugout during a visit to the ballpark before a game against the Rockies Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
Pirates pitchers Chad Kuhl and Trevor Williams take a selfie with the Stanley Cup, as Wade LeBlanc photo-bombs in the clubhouse during the Penguins' visit to the ballpark Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitchers Chad Kuhl and Trevor Williams take a selfie with the Stanley Cup, as Wade LeBlanc photo-bombs in the clubhouse during the Penguins' visit to the ballpark Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
The Penguins' Patric Hornqvist carries the Stanley Cup to the Pirates clubhouse during a visit to the ballpark Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Patric Hornqvist carries the Stanley Cup to the Pirates clubhouse during a visit to the ballpark Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby throws out the first pitch in front of teammates and the Stanley Cup before the Pirates' game against the Rockies Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby throws out the first pitch in front of teammates and the Stanley Cup before the Pirates' game against the Rockies Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon can't catch a two-run homer by the Pirates' John Jaso in front of the bullpens during the seventh inning Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon can't catch a two-run homer by the Pirates' John Jaso in front of the bullpens during the seventh inning Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
Pirates center fielderAndrew McCutchen celebrates his second home run of the game with Josh Bell during the eighth inning against the Rockies Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates center fielderAndrew McCutchen celebrates his second home run of the game with Josh Bell during the eighth inning against the Rockies Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
Pirates center fielderAndrew McCutchen rounds the bases after his second home run of the game during the eighth inning against the Rockies Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates center fielderAndrew McCutchen rounds the bases after his second home run of the game during the eighth inning against the Rockies Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
Pirates center fielderAndrew McCutchen celebrates with closer Felipe Rivero after defeating the Rockies Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates center fielderAndrew McCutchen celebrates with closer Felipe Rivero after defeating the Rockies Tuesday, June 13, 2017, at PNC Park.
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