Sept. 9, 2013
Pittsburgh 1, Texas 0
Turning Point in the game: Following two consecutive walks and a double steal, Pirates starter Gerrit Cole preserves a scoreless tie in the sixth inning by getting Adrian Beltre to ground out. Pedro Alvarez would drive in the game's only run the following inning with a two-out RBI double. The win marked Cole's best start to date.
In a pitcher's duel that lived up to its billing, Pirates rookie Gerrit Cole outlasted Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish to notch a victory that meant a lot more to Pittsburgh fans than it did to the men in the clubhouse who had just earned it.
Cole's seven shutout innings against Texas on Sept. 9 helped end a four-game losing streak that included a sweep at division rival St. Louis, and set the tone for a road series sweep against the Rangers. It also represented elusive win number 82, ensuring the Pirates' first winning season since 1992.
Following the game, the team acknowledged the feat but made it clear No. 82 was a stepping stone, not the destination.
"It's going to touch a lot of people on a lot of different levels," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We are aware of it. Everybody's here for a reason, and that's to knock down things we haven't done in a long time."
Cole - who was 2 years old when the Pirates last made the postseason - also kept things in perspective after arguably the strongest outing of his young career.
"We don't really understand what the fans have been through. I know it definitely puts a smile on their face when they see that No. 82 up there," Cole said. "We're extremely happy to be able to make them feel like we've got a winning team out there. But we've got a few weeks ahead and those are going to be some real big games."
The game moved Pittsburgh to within a game of the Cardinals, who had seized the division lead by virtue of their three game sweep of the Pirates.
Cole and Darvish matched each other practically pitch-for-pitch through the early part of the night. The game's first five innings saw just one man from either club reach second base - Rangers catcher Geovany Soto, who singled and advanced on a Cole wild pitch in the second.
The only hint of trouble for Cole came in the sixth, when he issued back-to-back walks to Elvis Andrus and Alex Rios after getting two quick outs. A successful double steal put both men in scoring position, but Adrian Beltre grounded out to short to end the threat.
In the seventh, Darvish also recorded two quick outs before Marlon Byrd doubled to left, giving the Pirates their first runner in scoring position. Pedro Alvarez cashed in the opportunity with a line drive double of his own to center field.
It was the only time the Pirates would threaten all evening until Andrew McCutchen's one-out triple in the ninth. He would be thrown out at the plate as he tried to score on Justin Morneau's subsequent ground ball to second.
But Bucs relievers Tony Watson and Mark Melancon made the single run stand up. Cole gave up just three hits, walking two and striking out a then-career high nine Rangers in seven innings of work. Despite throwing just 81 pitches, Darvish was lifted after seven innings due to leg cramps.