PITTSBURGH (AP) — Facing Pirates ace Gerrit Cole, the Arizona Diamondbacks gave themselves plenty of chances to break the game open and grab a win.
They had runners in scoring position in six different innings, but were largely unable to capitalize on their opportunities in an 8-3 loss that saw the Diamondbacks fall to a season-worst seven games under .500.
Cole was far from sharp from the start, giving up back-to-back doubles to Jean Segura and Jason Bourne in the first inning to give the Diamondbacks an early 1-0 lead. Cole needed 106 pitches to get through five innings. But with the Pirates’ ace scuffling, the Diamondbacks hit just 3 for 14 with runners in scoring position and left 26 men on base.
First baseman Paul Goldschmidt tied the game in the top of the sixth inning, plating two with an RBI single to tie the game. But for the most part, when they needed a hit the most, the Diamondbacks were unable to come through.
“We’re going to get better,” manager Chip Hale said. “The younger guys are getting a lot of experience right now in these pressure-type situations, and at some point it’s going to turn and instead of hitting a ground ball to the pitcher or a pop-up, they’re going to drive the ball into the gap and we’re going to score a bunch of runs.”
Instead, it was the Pirates coming through as Josh Harrison came off the bench to hit a clutch two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the sixth to give the Pirates the lead for good. Harrison had been held out of the starting lineup with a flu-like illness.
Harrison’s hit bailed out reliever A.J. Schugel (1-1), who earned his first major-league win despite giving up two runs to Goldschmidt in the top of the sixth.
Arizona starter Patrick Corbin (2-4) took the loss, as he was responsible for both of the runners that scored on Harrison’s double, which was hit off reliever Jake Barrett. Corbin gave up five runs over 5 2/3 innings, including a three-run home run by Cole in the third.
Corbin had a chance to get out of the trouble in the sixth inning, but walked Sean Rodriguez, bringing Harrison to the plate and ending Corbin’s afternoon.
“I felt the first pitch (to Rodriguez) was close for a strike and changed the at-bat and I ended up walking him,” Corbin explained. “But (overall), I felt good, felt strong, just (made) a couple mistakes.”
The Pirates added three insurance runs in the eighth inning. Andrew Chafin loaded the bases and then gave way to Evan Marshall, who gave up a two-run double to Jung Ho Kang and an RBI double to Starling Marte.
Cole added a double to go 2 for 3 and Corbin was able to come through with the bat, as well. His sixth-inning single started the rally that led to Goldschmidt’s two-run single. The two starting pitchers combined to go 4 for 5.
“It’s just in this league, you can get hurt any time – and if you’re not ready for it, sometimes it surprises you,” Hale said. “You tip the cap to him for the hit; the home run obviously hurt us a lot.”
Segura returned to the starting lineup and went 2 for 5 with two runs scored after a one-game absence. He was held out with concussion-like symptoms on Wednesday after being hit in the head by an Arquimedes Caminero fastball on Tuesday.
Diamondbacks: Robbie Ray (2-13, 4.18 ERA) has thrown over 100 pitches in each of his last four starts, but has made it to the sixth inning just once in that span. He’ll try to reverse that trend back as the Diamondbacks head back home to face the San Diego Padres.
Pirates: Jonathon Niese (4-2, 4.75 ERA) will look to extend his streak of three consecutive quality starts. The Pirates will face the Texas Rangers in a three-game series as part of a six-game road trip that will also take them to Miami.