CINCINNATI -- Finally, the Cole Train rolled through Cincinnati. Pirates ace Gerrit Cole threw seven shutout innings and homered off right-hander Luis Castillo to record his first career win against the Reds -- 1-0 on Saturday night at Great American Ball Park.It was the first 1-0 game in which a
CINCINNATI -- Finally, the Cole Train rolled through Cincinnati. Pirates ace Gerrit Cole threw seven shutout innings and homered off right-hander Luis Castillo to record his first career win against the Reds -- 1-0 on Saturday night at Great American Ball Park.
It was the first 1-0 game in which a pitcher homered since Nate Karns went deep for the Rays on July 21, 2015. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time in Pirates history that a pitcher drove in all of the runs with a home run in a shutout victory.
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"I [predicted] Cole dominating. Dominating on the offensive side of the ball, I may not have had that," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We would jokingly say he Little Leagued them. Shut 'em out and hit a homer. That's impressive. Impressive night for Cole."
Cole entered 0-6 with a 5.14 ERA in nine career starts against the Reds, seemingly unable to solve the Bucs' National League Central rivals. But he figured it out, striking out six and allowing five hits -- all singles -- in his first scoreless start of the season. He worked six scoreless innings in his last start before allowing five runs in the seventh. This time, he finished as strong as he started.
"Just really trying to continue what I've been doing as of late and finish a little better," Cole said. "We pitched well against the Dodgers and didn't come through at the end. I was just focused on sticking with the process and trying to make pitches."
Castillo pitched a gem for the Reds, recording a career-high nine strikeouts while allowing only three hits over seven innings, but his lone, costly mistake came against Cole. When the Pirates struggled to put anything together against Castillo, Cole took matters into his own hands. Cole led off the sixth inning by swinging at the first pitch he saw, a 95-mph fastball, and hammering it into the left-field seats. It was Cole's third career homer and first this season, traveling a projected 375 feet, according to Statcast™.
"That guy was pretty nasty," Pirates right fielder Adam Frazier said of Castillo. "For Gerrit to be the one to do it, pretty surprising, but we were pretty excited for that to get over the wall and take the lead."
The Pirates won for just the fourth time in their last 14 games and for only the third time in 12 meetings with the Reds this season. Right-hander Juan Nicasio picked up for Cole and pitched a perfect eighth inning, while closer Felipe Rivero (aptly nicknamed "Nightmare" for Players Weekend) finished off the ninth to pick up his 15th save.
"These are the best games for the game, for me," Hurdle said. "Everybody had something to do. Nicasio's got a big inning to pitch. Rivero's got a big inning to pitch. Cole carries the heavy lumber through seven. ... I absolutely enjoy these kinds of games."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Cut down:Josh Bell hit a two-out double to right field off Castillo in the fourth inning then headed home on David Freese's single to left field. Adam Duvall (aka "Duvy" on Players Weekend) made sure the game remained scoreless by fielding and firing the ball to catcher Tucker Barnhart, who stretched to tag out Bell at the plate. It was Duvall's Major League-leading 13th outfield assist, the most in a season by a Reds outfielder since Jay Bruce had 13 in 2013.The last Reds outfielder with 14 assists was Paul Householder in 1982.
Cut off:Scooter Gennett began the seventh with a line drive to the right-field wall, a potential leadoff double. But Frazier played the carom to perfection, reading the bounce off the wall and making a quick throw that stopped Gennett at first base. Two pitches later, Eugenio Suarez grounded into a key double play.
"That was huge. It's huge late in the ballgame, third time through the order," Cole said. "To be able to hold him to a single right there, we can work out of it a lot different. There's more options to work out of it rather than giving up a leadoff double."
"That was cool. ... It's nice that we can take a day to remember a really good writer and a really good man."-- Cole, on pitching in a Players Weekend jersey featuring his "Cole Train" nickname, which was created by late MLB.com reporter Tom Singer
"It was really a sensational game, with the caveat we didn't win it." -- Reds manager Bryan Price
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The last time the Reds lost a 1-0 game on a home run by the opposing pitcher was June 17, 1983, at Dodger Stadium, when Bob Welch homered off Mario Soto.
Cole has won eight straight decisions on the road. He is the first Pirates pitcher to do so since Don Robinson in 1982, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Pirates: Right-hander Jameson Taillon will make his 20th start in the Majors this season as the Pirates wrap up their three-game series against the Reds on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. ET. Taillon has a 7.01 ERA and 1.68 WHIP in five career starts against Cincinnati.
Reds: Right-hander Tyler Mahle will make his Major League debut at 1:10 p.m. ET on Sunday in the series finale against the Pirates at Great American Ball Park. Mahle, ranked as the club's No. 4 prospect by MLBPipeline.com, has a combined 2.06 ERA in the Minors this season, including a perfect game on April 22 while pitching for Double-A Pensacola.
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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.
Andrew Call is a contributor to MLB.com based in Cincinnati and covered the Reds on Saturday.