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Offense finally roars to life in Pirates' win over Giants

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013, 10:18 p.m.
 

Put aside, for a moment, the pyrotechnics Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole displayed on the mound Tuesday in his big league debut. That was no surprise.

Instead, savor what Cole did at the plate in the second inning, when the Pirates had the bases loaded and San Francisco Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum fired a full-count fastball.

Cole smacked a two-run single, his first hit since he was a high school senior in 2008. The rest of the Pirates' offense eventually came around. Russell Martin had an RBI single, Starling Marte hit a solo homer and Pedro Alvarez launched a majestic, two-run shot.

The Pirates routed the Giants, 8-2. It was the most runs the Pirates had scored in a game in exactly one month, and only one run fewer than they scored in the just-completed weekend series against the Chicago Cubs.

“It's a good night for the organization,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “A special night.”

In the second inning, Martin, Alvarez and Neil Walker hit consecutive singles to load the bases with none out. Cole singled to right field to give the Pirates a 2-0 lead.

“The biggest at-bat of the game,” Lincecum said. “You have to take advantage of the fact that it's the pitcher. Just go after him. I wasn't as aggressive as I needed to be.”

Cole seemed almost embarrassed by the hit.

“I just got lucky,” Cole insisted. “I'm not a hitter.”

The No. 1 overall draft pick in 2011, Cole (1-0) pitched 6 13 innings and allowed two runs and seven hits. Although he got just two strikeouts, 59 of his 81 pitches were strikes.

“He threw well,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “Power arm, just like we thought, and the bat was impressive, too.”

Cole is the first Pirates pitcher to win his major league debut since Paul Maholm in 2005. After Maholm, nine others combined to go 0-4 — including Phil Irwin, who got a no-decision April 14 — giving the Pirates the longest inaugural game winless streak in the majors.

Early in the game, when Cole was fueled by adrenaline, things were a little herky-jerky. His first two innings were scoreless, but he also allowed five baserunners.

After plunking Gregor Blanco in the second inning, Cole retired the next 13 batters. Once he settled in, Cole began pounding the bottom of the strike zone. Five of the first seven outs he recorded were on balls in the air. Eight of his final 11 outs came on grounders.

Cole's first pitch of the game was a 96 mph fastball that Blanco took for a strike. Blanco swung at the next two, not that it helped. Cole blew two more heaters — the first 96 mph, the second 99 — past him for a three-pitch strikeout.

The crowd of 30,614 — minus several hundred who were stuck outside PNC Park in long queues caused by enhanced security measures — roared its approval.

“I didn't really feel my legs after that,” Cole said. “The crowd went crazy. It was a lot of fun.”

Cole's first strikeout was followed by his first hit allowed. Marco Scutaro lined a single into right field. That established a pattern Cole followed the first two innings: out, hit, out, hit. When Blanco took a 97 mph fastball in the ribs in the second inning, it loaded the bases with two outs. Cole got out of the jam by getting Scutaro to fly out on an 0-2 pitch.

“I was thinking, ‘I'd better make a pitch, or we're screwed. Get over it and let's go,' ” Cole said. “I wasn't nervous before the game, and that was weird. I was kind of nervous about not being nervous. Fortunately, we made a lot of great defensive plays and guys hit the crap out of the ball.”

The Pirates got two unearned runs in the fifth inning. By the sixth, when Marte ripped a solo homer to left, Lincecum (4-6) was out of the game. He pitched 4 23 innings and allowed four runs (two earned) and seven hits.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole steps onto the field at the start of his MLB debut on Tuesday, June 11, 2013, at PNC Park on the North Shore.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole steps onto the field at the start of his MLB debut on Tuesday, June 11, 2013, at PNC Park on the North Shore.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole delivers during the second inning against the Giants on Tuesday, June 11, 2013, at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole delivers during the second inning against the Giants on Tuesday, June 11, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez admires his two-run home run during the seventh inning against the Giants on Tuesday, June 11, 2013, at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez admires his two-run home run during the seventh inning against the Giants on Tuesday, June 11, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole gets a standing ovation from the crowd as he leaves the game during his major league debut against the Giants on Tuesday, June 11, 2013, at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole gets a standing ovation from the crowd as he leaves the game during his major league debut against the Giants on Tuesday, June 11, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole throws a 96 mph fastball, the first pitch of his MLB career, against the Giants on Tuesday, June 11, 2013, at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole throws a 96 mph fastball, the first pitch of his MLB career, against the Giants on Tuesday, June 11, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole delivers during the first inning against the Giants on Tuesday, June 11, 2013, at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole delivers during the first inning against the Giants on Tuesday, June 11, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole talks with pitching coach Ray Searage as they walk to the bullpen before his MLB debut against the Giants on Tuesday, June 11, 2013, at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole talks with pitching coach Ray Searage as they walk to the bullpen before his MLB debut against the Giants on Tuesday, June 11, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole drives in two runs with a single during the second inning against the Giants on Tuesday, June 11, 2013, at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole drives in two runs with a single during the second inning against the Giants on Tuesday, June 11, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole smiles at fans in the stands after driving in two runs during the second inning against the Giants on Tuesday, June 11, 2013, at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole smiles at fans in the stands after driving in two runs during the second inning against the Giants on Tuesday, June 11, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole throws during the second inning against the Giants on Tuesday at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole throws during the second inning against the Giants on Tuesday at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole smiles at first-base coach Rick Sofield after driving in two runs with a single during the second inning against the Giants on Tuesday, June 11, 2013, at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole smiles at first-base coach Rick Sofield after driving in two runs with a single during the second inning against the Giants on Tuesday, June 11, 2013, at PNC Park.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole delivers to the plate during the first inning against the Giants on Tuesday, June 11, 2013, at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole delivers to the plate during the first inning against the Giants on Tuesday, June 11, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole drives in two runs with a single during the second inning against the Giants on Tuesday, June 11, 2013, at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole drives in two runs with a single during the second inning against the Giants on Tuesday, June 11, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Fans watch from above, as Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole warms up in the bullpen before the start of his major league debut against the Giants on Tuesday, June 11, 2013, at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Fans watch from above, as Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole warms up in the bullpen before the start of his major league debut against the Giants on Tuesday, June 11, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole motions to his infielders after getting out of a jam against the Giants on Tuesday, June 11, 2013, at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole motions to his infielders after getting out of a jam against the Giants on Tuesday, June 11, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole drives in two runs with a single during the second inning against the Giants on Tuesday, June 11, 2013 at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole drives in two runs with a single during the second inning against the Giants on Tuesday, June 11, 2013 at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen greets left fielder Starling Marte after he homered against the Giants Tuesday, June 11, 2013 at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen greets left fielder Starling Marte after he homered against the Giants Tuesday, June 11, 2013 at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Giants right fielder Hunter Pence misplays a base hit by the Pirates' Garrett Jones during the fifth inning Tuesday, June 11, 2013, at PNC Park. Andrew McCutchen scored on the play.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Giants right fielder Hunter Pence misplays a base hit by the Pirates' Garrett Jones during the fifth inning Tuesday, June 11, 2013, at PNC Park. Andrew McCutchen scored on the play.
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