PITTSBURGH — Gerrit Cole shut down the best offense in the majors, holding the Washington Nationals to three hits in seven innings to win for the first time in a month as the Pittsburgh Pirates eased to a 6-1 victory Wednesday night.
Cole (2-4) struck out three, walked two and received an overdue dose of support when Josh Bell smacked a three-run home run in the sixth off Jacob Turner (2-2). Andrew McCutchen went 2 for 4 with two RBIs and also stole two bases for Pittsburgh.
Turner cruised through the first five innings in his second start of the year, but ran into trouble in the sixth. A walk and a hit batter brought up Bell, who sent a pitch into the right field stands.
Brian Goodwin had an RBI double for the Nationals. Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman, who began the day with the top two batting averages in the majors, combined to go 0 for 8.
Save for a bumpy opening day in Boston, Cole has dominated. He came in with a 2.08 ERA in his last six starts, but had just one win to show for it thanks to an offense that averages just 2.5 runs when he’s on the mound.
For a long stretch against a team that came in with the best record in the National League thanks to an offense that leads the majors in run and batting average, it looked as though it would be more of the same. The Nationals managed just one hit — a bloop single by Jose Lobaton in the third - and three baserunners through six turns at bat but the Pirates could do little against Turner, making a rare start.
Turner pitched into the sixth inning in the majors for just the second time since 2014, and Pittsburgh finally got going. John Jaso walked leading off the sixth and Turner then hit David Freese with one out. Bell drove a 3-1 offering 398 feet for his eighth homer, the most by a rookie in the National League.
Turner gave up three runs on four hits with four walks and a strikeout in 5 1/3 innings.
The Pirates added on in the seventh, with McCutchen’s drive to the wall in right scoring two and giving the five-time All-Star a bit of redemption a night after being pulled as part of a double switch in the eighth with Pittsburgh down just two runs.
The Nationals placed reliever Joe Blanton on the 10-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation and recalled reliever Matt Grace from Triple-A Syracuse. Blanton is 0-2 with 9.49 ERA in 14 appearances this season, surrendering six home runs in 12 1/3 innings. Manager Dusty Baker said while Blanton’s velocity hasn’t been an issue, the veteran has struggled hitting spots and opted to give him a break in hopes a little rest will help him hit reset on his season.
Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco was put on the 10-day disabled list with a strained left groin, retroactive to May 15. Pittsburgh called up OF Danny Ortiz from Triple-A Indianapolis. Ortiz made his major league debut as a defensive replacement in the seventh and walked in his first career at-bat.
Nationals starter Tanner Roark (3-1, 3.88 ERA) looks for his first victory since April 26 in the series finale Thursday. Roark has a 5.40 ERA in his last three starts.
Pirates starter Tyler Glasnow (1-3, 7.98 ERA) will try to bounce back from a miserable start in Arizona last Friday, when he gave up seven runs in 2 1/3 innings.
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