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Cole allows career-high five runs as Bucs fall to Reds

Young right-hander gives up two homers for first time

CINCINNATI -- The Southern Californian's unfamiliarity with the chilly Tuesday night conditions aside, Gerrit Cole was given an edge against the Reds because of his ability to jam hitters with 97-mile fastballs. Not a pleasant experience in 39 degrees.

As it turned out, Cole was the one in jams most of the night, going down in a 7-5 defeat at Great American Ball Park.

And that turnabout puzzled Clint Hurdle. The Pirates skipper did not fault his young pitcher's overall effort.

After all, "I thought he had the game in check through five," Hurdle reasoned. "He didn't face any issues until the sixth, when the game got away from him."

However, Hurdle seemed perplexed why Cole did not go to that heat more often, instead of relying on throwing more breaking pitches than usual.

Not that the manager directly said that. But consider his response when asked to evaluate the effort of reliever Jeanmar Gomez, who let the game get away by serving up a bases-loaded, two-run single in the seventh to Devin Mesoraco:

"He got two quick strikes on him, then threw a breaking ball that missed location," Hurdle said. "When it's cold like this, you'd like to see guys pound the ball in. Didn't happen [Monday] night, and not so much tonight."

Cole's part in that?

"We'll talk about it later, internally," Hurdle said. "He did pitch a good game. That's one inning … I'm not going to second guess because one inning did not turn out well."

In the day's warmup act, Russell Martin singled for the tie-breaking run soon after Monday night's suspended game resumed in the top of the seventh with the teams deadlocked, 7-7. Martin's single drove in Andrew McCutchen, who had doubled, to validate the six solo home runs the Pirates had hit, the larger portion of the GABP-record 10 between the teams.

Besides being out-pitched in the "nightcap" by Mike Leake, who decisioned the Bucs for the fourth straight time, Cole was also battered by his mound adversary, who triggered the Reds' first rally with a double and later added the crowning blow against Cole with a two-run homer.

None of it was news to the former UCLA ace -- who had witnessed Leake do such things years ago as a Pac-12 adversary at Arizona State.

"I pitched once against him [in college]. I lost. I'm 0-2 against him," Cole said.

"The guy's a good hitter for a pitcher. He wore us out at ASU, at the plate and on the mound," Cole added. "So that wasn't the first time I've seen him do stuff like that. But in that situation, we're down one run at that point, that can't happen."

The Reds took command of the game in the sixth. First, Todd Frazier's two-run homer erased Cole's slim 2-1 lead.

"It was a slider. For me, I knew it was in the gap because I saw both [outfielders] running," Frazier said. "I thought it was going to be a double. Sometimes you just pride yourself I guess. I still got that little power to the opposite field, which is pretty nice to see."

Then Leake's two-run blow grew the lead to 5-2.

"They left a couple over the middle for me," Leake said modestly.

"Frustrating game," Cole said. "Balls up, not being able to put guys away with two strikes, giving up the lead. Those two home runs in the sixth kinda let the game get away.

"I felt early I was getting some swings through the breaking pitch, but then I wasn't able to get it in the right spot with two strikes. It came down to fastball location. Nothing established inside or outside … everything kinda wishy-washy over the middle of the plate."

The twin homers saddled Cole with the first two-homer game of his nascent career, while the five runs he allowed in six innings were another career high.

"He's got to find a way to compete," Hurdle said, "and what we want him to do is grow, so those sixth innings don't multiply on him like that, where two turns into four."

The Reds added on in the seventh as Mesoraco's bases-loaded single off Gomez scored a pair of runs charged to Justin Wilson.

Leake, a known quality hitter, first swung up to that reputation to draw even with Cole in the third. He led off with a double up the left-center alley, was sacrificed to third by leadoff hitter Chris Heisey -- a nice bit of role reversal -- and came in on Joey Votto's single to tie it up at 1.

The Bucs had gotten a jump the previous inning, with Pedro Alvarez, rather than going yard, going station to station. He drew a walk, stole second, took third as Neil Walker pulled a grounder to first base, and scored on Gaby Sanchez's single.

And they crept into another one-run lead in the fourth, little consolation for how the inning had begun, on consecutive singles by McCutchen and Alvarez that placed runners at the corners with none away. A run scored when Leake threw away Martin's comebacker -- which put replacement runners at the corners still with no outs. That's where they stayed.

Walker, continuing his one-man assault on GABP, brought the Bucs closer with a two-run homer in the eighth off left-hander Manny Parra.

The switch-hitting Walker's fifth career homer batting right-handed was his fifth in his last three games at the Reds' home.

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer.
Read More: Pittsburgh Pirates, Gerrit Cole