PITTSBURGH -- Over the last month, the Pirates have seen Gerrit Cole at his best with little to show for it. Their own mistakes kept Cole from picking up a win Saturday night at PNC Park, but Josh Harrison made sure the efforts of Cole, Felipe Rivero and Tony Watson
PITTSBURGH -- Over the last month, the Pirates have seen Gerrit Cole at his best with little to show for it. Their own mistakes kept Cole from picking up a win Saturday night at PNC Park, but Josh Harrison made sure the efforts of Cole, Felipe Rivero and Tony Watson would not go to waste this time. Harrison laced a single to right-center field with one out in the 10th inning, driving home Mpho' Ngoepe for his seventh career walk-off hit and leading the Pirates to a 2-1 win over the Brewers.
"When you have guys that throw like that, you want to get them a win," Harrison said. "We got a team win, so that's good."
Ngoepe singled to lead off the inning, advanced to second base on a wild pitch and took third on Jose Osuna's flyout to center field. Harrison swung at Brewers reliever Carlos Torres' first pitch and drove it past Domingo Santana in right field for the game-winning hit, once again showing a flair for the dramatic.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has called Harrison a spark plug atop the order and referred to him as "Tabasco sauce" because he spices things up. He added a new nickname Saturday night.
"He's like a microwave. You put something in it, man, something's going to happen," Hurdle said. "He makes things happen. He plays. He lays it all out there."
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Matt Garza delivered a second straight quality start for Milwaukee, lowering his ERA to 2.55 over three starts this season with seven innings of one-run ball on 86 pitches. It was Garza's second straight start without a walk.
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Between missed opportunities in the second and sixth, the Pirates got to Garza in the fourth. Josh Bell led off the inning with a double to left-center, advanced to third when Keon Broxton and Nick Franklin ran into each other in the outfield while tracking down Andrew McCutchen's fly ball and scored on Gregory Polanco's groundout to tie the game.
"It was a well-pitched game on both sides," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "Obviously we faced their three best guys for 10 innings. They did a nice job. It was a difficult night to hit; the ball really wasn't going anywhere. There weren't any opportunities that we missed out on. We just didn't get many runners today. Cole is a good pitcher. He pitched well."
Cole once again pitched well with little support, holding the Brewers to two hits and two walks while striking out eight over seven innings. His lone mistake came in the fourth inning, and Hernan Perez hit it into the left-field seats to break up the no-hitter and break the scoreless tie. Cole has a 2.37 ERA in six outings since his five-run Opening Day start, yet he has only picked up one win during that stretch.
With Cole out of the game, the Pirates turned to Rivero, their lights-out setup man, in the eighth. Watson, the closer, pitched a scoreless ninth and struck out two in a perfect 10th inning, setting up Harrison's game-winner.
"We're strong back there," Hurdle said of Pittsburgh's bullpen. "We're going to get stronger."
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MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Powered by Perez: The Brewers couldn't muster much offense against Cole, who seemingly got better as the night went on. The right-hander retired the final 10 batters he faced in order. That made Perez's solo shot, his fourth of the season, more significant for Milwaukee. Cole's 1-0, up-and-in fastball came off Perez's bat at 101.8 mph, according to Statcast™, and traveled a projected 394 feet. Perez beat up on the Bucs last year, hitting .311 with three homers and 11 RBIs in 16 games. Cole said the scouting report suggested Perez was weak on the inner half of the plate, but Perez did not miss his pitch.
"Sometimes they just put good swings on it," Cole said.
Doubled down: The Pirates wasted a golden opportunity in the sixth. Cole, Harrison and Bell each singled to lead off the inning, bringing up McCutchen with the bases loaded. McCutchen hit a grounder toward third base, where Travis Shaw stepped on the bag to force out Harrison. The Brewers third baseman threw home, catching Cole in a rundown, and he was tagged out by catcher Manny Pina, leaving Pittsburgh with runners on first and second for Polanco, who grounded out to second base, allowing Garza to escape the jam.
"With the bases loaded, we didn't do a very good job of firing and getting some things done there to score some runs," Hurdle said. More >
"I'm going to have to keep a running total on all those. I don't know if I've really ever heard 'em all. He tells you guys. He just sticks to calling me J-Hay." -- Harrison, on Hurdle's expanding list of nicknames
"I like to hit. Just try not to be a deadbeat out there, try to help out." -- Cole, who singled in the sixth inning
Brewers: Right-hander Zach Davies will start the series finale for the Brewers at 12:35 p.m. CT on Sunday at PNC Park. He has gone 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA in his last two starts, but he's yet to register a quality start this season. Davies is 0-2 with a 13.06 ERA in three career starts against the Pirates.
Pirates: After picking up his first Major League win against the Reds on Tuesday, right-hander Tyler Glasnow will look to complete a sweep in the series finale against the Brewers at 1:35 p.m. ET. Glasnow put together his first quality start despite a brutal first inning, holding Cincinnati to three runs over six innings.
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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.
George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com based in Pittsburgh and covered the Brewers on Saturday.