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Cole powered: Ace gets 8th straight road win

Pirates righty goes 7 strong for first career victory vs. Reds
MLB.com

CINCINNATI -- Gerrit Cole did it all on Saturday night, pitching one of his best games of the season and hitting the third homer of his career for the lone run in the Pirates' 1-0 win over the Reds.

Cole fired seven strong innings while allowing only five hits, all singles, and striking out six without issuing a walk. It was his first win over the Reds in his 10th start against them and his eighth straight victory on the road.

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CINCINNATI -- Gerrit Cole did it all on Saturday night, pitching one of his best games of the season and hitting the third homer of his career for the lone run in the Pirates' 1-0 win over the Reds.

Cole fired seven strong innings while allowing only five hits, all singles, and striking out six without issuing a walk. It was his first win over the Reds in his 10th start against them and his eighth straight victory on the road.

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According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time in franchise history that a pitcher drove in every run with a home run in a shutout win for the Bucs. Cole wasn't overwhelmed by any of the accomplishments, but he was pleased to finish what he started after allowing five runs in his final inning on Monday against the Dodgers.

"It's nice," Cole said. "It's nice to get back on track here."

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle expects Cole will probably remind his teammates for a while about the swing he took on Saturday night, the one that launched Luis Castillo's 95-mph fastball over the left-field fence. But the Bucs have probably seen the last of the blue-and-red, Players Weekend-only bat Cole took to the plate against Castillo.

Video: PIT@CIN: Hurdle discusses Cole's outing and defense

"I think I'm just going to retire it on top," he said, smiling. "We were just looking for something. Any time you put the bat on the ball, something good can happen. I knew he threw hard, so I was just trying to put it in play."

Cole gave himself all the run support he'd need. He relied primarily on his fastball, following catcher Chris Stewart's glove up and down the strike zone as he recorded 13 called strikes and eight whiffs on fastballs.

Video: PIT@CIN: Cole leads Bucs with seven scoreless, homer

"It was just powerful stuff today," Hurdle said. "The fastball played from start to finish ... and the slider was a separator."

But Cole didn't have a good feel for his slider the first time through the order, so Stewart prioritized his curveball. Cole found his slider around the third inning, mixed that in and sprinkled in a handful of changeups to keep the Reds' dangerous lineup off-balance.

"Chris was excellent back there," Cole said. "We executed a good amount of pitches well tonight. When you can do that and pick the right pitches to throw in certain situations with the help of your catcher, more oftentimes than not, things tend to go your way."

Things have rarely gone Cole's way against the Reds, hence his 0-6 record in nine previous starts against them. But he has found a groove away from PNC Park lately, winning each of his last eight decisions on the road. Something had to give, right?

"I think it's just a coincidence, man. I enjoy pitching whether it's at home or on the road," Cole said. "Obviously, you like to have the fans behind you. There's a certain amount of enjoyment you get when you go into enemy territory, but I think it's more of a coincidence."

For the first time this season, Cole walked off the mound with nothing but zeros behind him. The Cubs took advantage of an unearned run against him on April 25 and beat him, 1-0. He did not deserve to lose that game and made sure -- with his arm and his bat -- that he would not lose on Saturday.

"I almost broke my ankle on second base, and I think Scooter Gennett was laughing at me," Cole said. "It doesn't happen very often. It's fun to be in the box and hear the sound off the bat. It's cool."

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Gerrit Cole