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PITTSBURGH -- With Pirates right-hander Jameson Taillon making a triumphant return to the mound five weeks after cancer surgery, Josh Harrison supplied early run support as the Pirates rolled to a 7-2 win over the Rockies on Monday night at PNC Park to open a three-game series.
"Definitely a good win," Harrison said. "Good to see Jameson back out there. Good team win. Good team effort all-around."
Taillon (No. 2 overall, 2010 Draft, the Woodlands HS in Texas) struck out five while scattering five hits in five scoreless innings in his first start since being diagnosed with testicular cancer in early May.
• Taillon wins first start since cancer surgery
Harrison (sixth round, 2008 Draft, University of Cincinnati) gave Taillon a 2-0 lead in the first when he drove a 1-1 slider off Rockies starter Kyle Freeland (No. 8 overall pick, 2014 Draft, Thomas Jefferson HS in Denver) to the left-field bleachers. His two-run home run had an exit velocity of 100.1 mph, a launch angle of 29 degrees and traveled a projected 378 feet, according to Statcast™. The Pirates kept building their lead and have won three straight games for only the third time this season.
"I just beat him to the spot and put a good swing on it," Harrison said. "A lot of it as a hitter is if you can be on time and put the barrel there, you let the rest happen."
The Rockies threatened to come back, generating 11 hits and placing a runner in scoring position in seven consecutive innings. But they didn't capitalize. Their first run came in the sixth when Trevor Story (No. 45 overall, 2011, Irving HS in Texas) singled to right field. They added another run in the ninth, but by then it was too late.
"We've been swinging the bats lately," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "We just didn't get a couple of key its to swing the game a little closer."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Great Escape: Taillon encountered some trouble early in the fourth after allowing a single and a walk with no outs. That prompted pitching coach Ray Searage to visit the mound. Whatever he said proved to help Taillon, as he rebounded to retire the next three batters to keep the Rockies scoreless.
"Ray can be the pitcher whisperer when he goes out there," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "There is a lot of merit with what Ray is able to do when he goes out there based on the relationship he's developed with these guys … It was more giving [Taillon] a chance to catch his breath, regroup and reset. And he did that very well."
Production in the middle: The middle of the order gave the Pirates some insurance runs in the third. David Freese (9th round, 2006 Draft, South Alabama University) ripped a double to right field, and Jose Osuna and Andrew McCutchen (No. 11 overall pick, 2005 Draft, Fort Meade HS in Florida) both singled to drive in two runs to extend the Bucs lead to 4-0.
"We are seeing good at-bats all-around. Situation hitting has been going well. We have been taking extra bases on base hits, center field, left-center. We are pushing the envelope and just putting pressure on the other side. That's part of it. Getting on base and making anything that you can happen." -- Harrison, on the Pirates' recent offensive production
"He's got a good arm. This guy was a No. 1 pick. Pretty good talent. I like the movement to the fastball. He's got an impressive breaking ball, when thrown properly. Those two pitches are plus Major League pitches. He gets the ball in the strike zone, he lands that hook a little more consistently, he can win some games. He can be effective. First time I've seen him live. I've read about him for years." -- Black, on Taillon's performance
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Harrison's home run was the Pirates' first in 176 plate appearances, which at the time was the longest streak in the Majors. Osuna's two-run homer in the seventh against the Orioles on June 7 had been the last Pirates' dinger.
Rockies: Starting Tuesday's game at 5:05 p.m. MT, right-hander Tyler Chatwood (No. 74 overall pick, 2008 Draft, Redlands East Valley HS in California) has won his past three road starts, allowing two earned runs and four hits in 21 innings, with 20 strikeouts and eight walks.
Pirates:Gerrit Cole (No. 1 overall pick, 2011 Draft, UCLA) will take the mound against the Rockies on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. ET at PNC Park. Cole struggled again in his last start Thursday against the Marlins, surrendering seven runs on 11 hits in only 4 2/3 innings. He has posted a 10.71 ERA (23 earned runs in 19 1/3 innings) in his past four starts.
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