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Cole racks up another win with efficiency

Righty doesn't walk batter, denies Marlins opportunities for run-scoring rallies

PITTSBURGH -- As dominant as Gerrit Cole has been so far this season, what impressed Pirates manager Clint Hurdle the most on Wednesday was the young right-hander's efficiency.

Cole breezed through seven innings on 81 pitches, scattering seven hits and striking out seven. He didn't walk a batter. Both runs he allowed in Pittsburgh's 5-2 win over Miami at PNC Park came on solo home runs.

"Pitch efficient. Quality stuff. Good stuff," Hurdle said. "It was a very, very good performance."

Cole hasn't walked more than two batters in any of his 10 starts this season. He's walked two over his last three outings combined, a span of 21 1/3 innings.

"It's a big deal. Free passes tend to hurt you," Cole said. "For the most part, just attacking guys and staying down in the zone and forcing early contact keeps guys uncomfortable. It stops rallies."

Cole didn't allow any rallies to take shape Wednesday afternoon against the Marlins. He served up a leadoff home run to Justin Bour in the second inning and another to Christian Yelich in the seventh, but that was the extent of the damage.

Cole improved to 11-2 with a 2.51 ERA and 111 strikeouts in his last 15 starts dating back to Sept. 7. He leads the Majors in wins during that span.

"I feel strong. I feel good. I feel like I'm commanding at least two pitches every time I go out," Cole said. "That's been a separator, because I have two options to go to when I'm in a pinch."

Cole's outing also continued a dominant stretch for the Pirates' rotation, which has helped lead the Bucs to six straight wins and two series sweeps -- a run Cole kicked off Friday night and continued Wednesday afternoon.

"We're competing well as a unit right now. Each guy taking the ball is looking to do the best job they can and try to keep us in the game," Cole said. "In a situation where we've had the offense start to get rolling right now, it's even more important just to give them comfortable room so they can swing the bat and do what they want to do and get comfortable with their approach."

Adam Berry is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.
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