Pirates conclude wild suspended game with win, drop 2nd of series
CINCINNATI — Mike Leake and Gerrit Cole met once before.
When Cole was a freshman at UCLA and Leake a junior at Pac-10 rival Arizona St., Leake outdueled Cole late that May en route to leading the Sun Devils to a conference title. They might not remember their first meeting well, but they long will remember their past two days at Great American Ball Park.
On Tuesday, Leake once again got the best of Cole. The 2009 first-round pick outpitched the first overall pick of the 2011 draft and also doubled and homered off Cole to lead the Reds to a 7-5 victory Tuesday and split of the first two games of the series.
The game capped a bizarre and historic 27 hours in Cincinnati.
Before Cole (2-1) and Leake (2-1) took the mound, the Pirates and Reds completed the first game of the series with 231⁄2 hours, 10 home runs, a half-inch of overnight snow and a lunar eclipse elapsing after it had begun. The home runs were the most in a major league game since 2006, but it was a Russell Martin seventh-inning RBI single that was the decisive hit in an 8-7 Pirates win to compete a game that had been suspended.
The second game completed was unusual in its own right.
The Pirates caught only one runner stealing, speedster Billy Hamilton. Neil Walker hit a home run right-handed, just the fifth of his career. And Cole had a rare hiccup — all of this transpiring under a full moon.
“It came down to fastball location,” Cole said. “I've pitched without a breaking ball before and have been able to move the ball inside and out. There was really nothing to find. Slider was out over the plate. Curveball didn't have any pullback. Nothing established outside. Nothing established inside. Kind of wishy-washy over the middle of the plate.”
Cole's first start against the Reds was the worst of his career. For the first time in 22 regular-season starts, Cole allowed more than four runs. He allowed five runs — all earned — over six innings. He walked three and surrendered nine hits.
Cole missed few bats and struggled to control the running game as the Reds went 3 for 3 in steal attempts.
Leake missed plenty of Pirates bats, striking out eight and walking one over 62⁄3 innings. Some of the loudest contact against Cole came from Leake, who ripped a 93 mph two-seam fastball into the left-field seats for a two-run home run in the sixth that gave the Reds a 5-2 lead.
“(Leake) is a good hitter,” Cole said. “I've seen that at Arizona State. He wore us out on the mound and at the plate at Arizona State. … I'm 0-2 against him now.”
Todd Frazier also hit a two-run, opposite-field home run off Cole to give the Reds the lead that inning as Cole became familiar with the hitter-friendly dynamics of the Reds' home park.
“We can't build something out of every game he pitches, ‘What does it mean?' ” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “He's got to find a way to compete … where those sixth innings don't multiply like that where a two turns into four.”
Cole, a Southern Californian native, said the game-time temperature of 38 degrees was not a factor.
The Reds added two runs off Justin Wilson in the seventh, which were critical as Walker launched his fifth home run of the season in the eighth to cut the deficit to 7-5.
Walker and Gaby Sanchez accounted for a pair of back-to-back home runs in the series' first game, joining Toby Atwel and Jerry Lynch as the only Pirates to hit back-to-back home runs twice in a game. They first accomplished the feat April 27, 1954. The Pirates became the third team in major league history to produce three sets of back-to-back homers.
The 10 combined home runs Monday marked the first time at least 10 home runs had been hit in a game since the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs combined for 11 home runs at Wrigley Field on June 18, 2006.
Travis Sawchik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @Sawchik_Trib.
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