Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pirates Use Eight-Run First Inning as Springboard to 11-6 Romp

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pirates Use Eight-Run First Inning as Springboard to 11-6 Romp

Article excerpt

Jordy Mercer had the triple. That's the hardest part of the cycle, the triple, and Mercer took care of that in the first inning. He got the single two innings later, the double five innings after that, but at that point the tendonitis in his left knee began nagging at him.

"It's all right until I have to leg out a triple or a double or stop or do some crazy things like that," he said, with a smile, "that's when it starts going downhill."

Mercer exited before getting a crack at completing the cycle. It's that time of year, when nagging ailments come to the fore, and nobody is 100 percent. It is also the time of year when an eight-run first inning and an 11-6 victory against the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park can energize a non-playoff team with seven games remaining.

"I think it's a good jump-start for us," Mercer said. "We don't want to finish with a sour taste in our mouth, especially offensively, where we've had numerous chances and just haven't capitalized."

"That was a fun game to be a part of," said Gerrit Cole, who allowed five runs in 5? innings. "We had a nice crowd tonight, I'm sure they enjoyed it as well."

Adam Frazier began the bottom of the first - which the Pirates entered trailing, 2-0, because Cole allowed a first-inning homer to Tommy Pham - with a double. Starling Marte walked and Andrew McCutchen singled.

Lance Lynn struck out Josh Bell with the bases loaded, but the next four batters continued to apply pressure. David Freese, Gregory Polanco and Elias Diaz singled before Mercer snuck a bases-clearing triple past Dexter Fowler in center field.

Pham's two-run, first-inning homer was the 31st home run allowed by Cole this season. Only John Lackey has allowed more among National League pitchers. Cole also has a 4.23 ERA. After an injury-filled 2016 in which he was limited to 21 starts, Cole made his 32nd start of the season, and, with one more to go, he will surpass the 200-inning mark.

"It feels really good," he said. "As a guy in the rotation toward the top, you're supposed to take the ball every time, work deep into the ballgame or as deep as you can, and keep the rest of the rotation and the bullpen intact and give your team a chance to win. …

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