LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Pittsburgh Pirates had a long plane ride to digest their dreadful series at the New York Mets, and the exploits of batterymates Gerrit Cole and Russell Martin made for a pleasant series opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Martin and Pedro Alvarez homered, Josh Harrison's second RBI single triggered a three-run seventh inning, and the Pirates beat Los Angeles 6-3 on Thursday night for only their third victory in their last 20 games at Dodger Stadium.
"I think it's just staying in the moment and not carrying any excess baggage," manager Clint Hurdle said. "It was a 5-hour, 40 minute flight, and we're here in L.A. So It's time to get something done. Cole gave us the big start with his energy. He had a great pace and rhythm tonight, and the best speed variance he's had in quite some time. His fastball, changeup and curveball played extremely well for him, and everybody fed off of it."
Cole (5-3) allowed three runs and six hits over 6 1-3 innings in his first career appearance at Chavez Ravine. The former UCLA right-hander helped set up two runs with sacrifice bunts in the opener of a four-game series against the defending NL West champions.
"The key was making quality pitches early," Cole said. "Some at-bats they were patient and some they were really aggressive. But we just stuck with our approach and just made quality pitches. I thought we played Pirates baseball to a T. We passed the baton at the plate, swarmed them on defense, threw a lot of strikes and took some punches."
Cole was lifted after walking pinch-hitter Chone Figgins with his 88th pitch, but Tony Watson retired speedster Dee Gordon on a double-play grounder with his first delivery.
"Cole was outstanding. He was very aggressive, had all his pitches working," Martin said. "The pitch that really helped him was the changeup. He even threw them righty-on-righty. So to have a pitch that has the same spin as a fastball, I think, made the hitters uncomfortable. He's got that mentality to just go out there and compete and execute pitches."
Mark Melancon worked a perfect eighth and Jason Grilli got three outs for his sixth save. Grilli officially got his closer role back on Thursday, seven days after coming off the disabled list and six days after getting a save in his first game back. Melancon converted 10 of 12 save opportunities while Grilli was sidelined 4 1-2 weeks with a left oblique strain.
Starling Marte drew a leadoff walk in the seventh from Brandon League (1-2) and appeared to have stolen second — at least to umpire Eric Cooper, who called him safe. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly challenged the ruling, which was overturned by a video review.
But Clint Barmes followed with his third straight single, advanced on Cole's bunt and scored on Harrison's single up the middle. Harrison continued to second on the throw to the plate and came home on Neil Walker's single. Former Pirates starter Paul Maholm replaced League and gave up an RBI double to pinch-hitter Gabby Sanchez on his second pitch.
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