Pirates roll past Phils; Cole suffers soreness
If the game had been played in a lot of other ballparks, Andrew McCutchen would have hit for the cycle Friday.
McCutchen delivered four hits as the Pirates dismantled the Philadelphia Phillies, 8-2, at PNC Park. He singled in the first inning, tripled in the second and doubled in the fourth.
In the eighth, McCutchen went to the plate knowing he needed a home run to become the first Pirates player in a decade to hit for the cycle. Reliever B.J. Rosenberg threw a 2-2 fastball, and McCutchen launched it to deep right field.
“Off the bat, I thought it was out,” McCutchen said. “But you never know with this ballpark. Some days, it does. Some days, it doesn't. You just don't know.”
One of the quirks of PNC Park is the Clemente Wall, which looms 21 feet high in right field. McCutchen's shot hugged the line and stayed fair, but crashed halfway up the wall — missing the home run by about 10 feet.
“Dang it, that should have been a homer!” McCutchen said with a laugh. “You start thinking, ‘If I was playing at this or that ballpark, that ball might have gone out.' But, I'll take the double and the RBI.”
The last Pirates player to hit for the cycle was Daryle Ward on May 26, 2004, against the St. Louis Cardinals. The only Pirate to do it in Pittsburgh in the past 60 years was Jason Kendall, who did so May 19, 2000, against the Cardinals at Three Rivers Stadium.
Right-hander Gerrit Cole blanked the Phillies for five innings, but left the game because of soreness in his right lat. He will be re-evaluated Saturday.
The latissimus dorsi is the broadest muscle in the back. It moves the arm and also helps a person bend sideways and backward.
“It started getting a little tight,” Cole said. “There's no pain. Instead of trying to push through it, it seemed the right thing to do was take a step back. It feels good right now, so I should be good to go.”
Cole was on the disabled list for much of June because of right shoulder fatigue.
It's too early to say if the lat soreness is related to that earlier injury, but manager Clint Hurdle was pleased his prodigious right-hander immediately alerted the training staff about his discomfort.
“It's a sign of maturity,” Hurdle said. “We'll see where it goes. I don't think anybody is overly alarmed (about the lat injury) right now.”
Cole (7-4) gave up one hit, walked one and got five strikeouts. He threw 80 pitches, including 51 strikes.
Stolmy Pimentel took over with a 5-0 lead but gave up three walks and Chase Utley's RBI single without getting an out.
Jared Hughes replaced Pimentel and got Marlon Byrd to ground into a double play. Jimmy Rollins scored on the play, the first inherited runner Hughes allowed to score this season.
“In that situation, I'm going for the ground ball,” Hughes said. “All in all, I'm just happy we got the win.”
Phillies starter Roberto Hernandez (3-8) threw 45 pitches, only 22 of them strikes, in the first inning. Four of the first five batters in the inning worked the count full. After Gregory Polanco led off with a fly out, the next seven batters reached base — five singles and two walks.
The Pirates sent nine men to the plate and took a 4-0 lead, with all of the runs scoring with two outs. The key blows were RBI singles by Russell Martin and Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer's two-run single.
Mercer added a two-run double in the seventh, giving him a career-best four RBIs.
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