Cole beats hometown Angels for 3-0 start


Associated Press

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Gerrit Cole wasn’t nervous about making his first major league road start in his backyard until he heard “Calling All Angels,” the syrupy Train ballad played before every game at Angel Stadium.

“I’ve probably been listening to that song here since I was like 6 years old,” said Cole, the Pittsburgh Pirates phenom with pure Southern California roots. “I might have a couple of Rally Monkeys at home.”

Once the music faded, Cole shook off his homecoming jitters and kept rolling on an outstanding start to his career.

Cole pitched four-hit ball into the seventh inning in his native Orange County, earning his third straight victory in the Pirates’ 5-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.

The Pirates’ 22-year-old right-hander out of Orange Lutheran High School and UCLA dazzled the Angels, repeatedly hitting 100 mph on the stadium radar gun. He struck out five and retired 11 straight before Albert Pujols’ leadoff homer in the seventh, leaving later in the inning to a warm ovation from his hometown fans.

“It was a lot of fun to see everybody and be back in California,” Cole said. “I wasn’t expecting to be back here for another few months, so it was great.”

Cole (3-0) is the first Pittsburgh pitcher to win his first three career starts since Myrl Brown in 1922. He even outpitched Angels ace Jered Weaver (1-4), who yielded nine hits and four runs over six rocky innings in his fourth straight winless start.

After beating Cy Young winners Tim Lincecum and Zack Greinke in his first two starts, it’s clear Cole can hold his own against the majors’ best — and still keep a sense of humor about his rising star.

“That’s like $400 million worth of pitching,” Cole said. “We’ve just been scoring runs and giving me a chance.”

Until they ran into Cole, the Angels had won six of eight while enjoying perhaps the best offensive stretch of their disappointing season. Los Angeles had scored at least five runs in six of its last eight games, including 10 runs and 17 hits while rallying from a seven-run deficit to beat Seattle on Thursday.

“That’s a power arm, there’s no doubt about that,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “The ball comes out hot. I think we had some good at-bats against him and hit some balls hard, but for the most part, he was pounding the zone with good stuff and pitched a good game for those guys.”

Cole, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft, was born in nearby Newport Beach, Calif., and went to high school 15 minutes from Angel Stadium, racking up 121 strikeouts with an 0.46 ERA as a senior.

After three years at UCLA, Cole rocketed through the Pirates’ system and made his major league debut in Pittsburgh to much fanfare 10 days ago. The 6-foot-4 power pitcher hasn’t disappointed, beating San Francisco and the Dodgers in Pittsburgh before besting Weaver, who finished second in last year’s AL Cy Young voting.

“He pitched like he was pitching in front of his friends and family,” Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. “He was geared up. He got after it. It was like he was pitching in his hometown, and he wasn’t going to let anybody down.”

Pedro Alvarez and Jordy Mercer homered in the second inning of the Pirates’ first game in Anaheim since 2007.

Jason Grilli pitched the ninth for his NL-leading 26th save.

Cole retired Los Angeles’ first seven hitters before back-to-back singles by Hank Conger and Peter Bourjos in the third, but he escaped the jam and didn’t allow another baserunner until the seventh.

The Angels finally got to Cole when Pujols led off with his 488th career homer off the fake rock pile in left-center field. That was the first major-league homer allowed by Cole, and he followed up by issuing his first career walk to Mark Trumbo.

Howie Kendrick then hit a liner back to the mound that hit Cole on the upper left thigh, but he stayed in the game.

“It’s pretty sore,” Cole said. “Got me right on the thigh. Good thing I’ve got fat legs.”

The Angels finally chased Cole on Alberto Callaspo’s RBI single, and the Anaheim crowd cheered the local kid on the way to the dugout.

Weaver hasn’t been his usual dominant self in five starts since returning from a 45-day stint on the disabled list. After he gave up Alvarez’s 17th homer to lead off the second inning, Mercer followed with a two-run shot, his fourth of the season.

“The last three starts it just kind of seems like there’s one inning that’s a blow-up inning, and I’ve just got to learn to stay away from that,” Weaver said. “It’s frustrating. I’m not doing a whole lot to help the team right now. I just have to keep battling, and hopefully things will turn around.”

The Pirates added another run in the fourth when Bourjos, normally a spectacular fielder, lost track of Starling Marte’s two-out fly to center. The ball landed well behind him for an RBI triple.

Josh Hamilton sat out with a sore right wrist, and the $125 million slugger isn’t likely to start a game this weekend while the Angels give him some rest. Hamilton, who was available off the bench, was in a 3-for-26 skid in the first seven games of the Angels’ homestand.

BLUE JAYS 7, ORIOLES 6

TORONTO — Rajai Davis singled home the winning run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning and the Blue Jays rallied for their ninth straight win

Munenori Kawasaki hit his first career home run, a tying two-run shot in the seventh. Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion also connected for the Blue Jays.

Casey Janssen (2-0) worked one inning for the win as Toronto evened its record at 36-36.

Brian Matusz (2-1) was the loser. Chris Davis hit his major league leading 27th home run for the Orioles.

YANKEES 6, RAYS 2

NEW YORK — Zoilo Almonte provided much-needed pop in his first major league start, homering and adding two singles that led the Yankees over the Rays.

Almonte started in place of slumping left fielder Vernon Wells and quickly delivered, a day after getting a pinch single for his first hit. The Yankees won for the third time in 10 games.

David Phelps (5-4) beat Roberto Hernandez (4-8) and the Rays for the second time in a month. Tampa Bay was trying for its first three-game winning streak in June.

Phelps gave up two runs in 5 2-3 innings.

INDIANS 5, TWINS 1

CLEVELAND — Scott Kazmir allowed one run in seven strong innings and Jason Kipnis drove in three, leading the Indians over Minnesota.

Kazmir (4-4) gave up just a leadoff homer to Brian Dozier in the sixth and four other hits. The left-hander struck out seven, including five in his final two innings.

Kipnis hit a sacrifice fly — to the second baseman — off Samuel Deduno (3-2) in the third and added a two-run single in the seventh as the Indians won their third straight and seventh in nine games since losing eight in a row.

The Twins came in riding a three-game winning streak.

RED SOX 10, TIGERS 6

DETROIT — Shane Victorino homered and hit three singles, driving in five runs to lead the Red Sox to a win over the Tigers.

Miguel Cabrera hit a three-run homer for Detroit, which nearly rallied from a 6-1 deficit but couldn’t come through against the Boston bullpen. Jon Lester (7-4) allowed five runs and nine hits in 5 2-3 innings, but he won for the first time in seven starts.

Doug Fister (6-5) allowed six runs and 11 hits in 3 1-3 innings.

Andy Dirks also homered for Detroit, and Cabrera had four hits.

WHITE SOX 9, ROYALS 1

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Hector Santiago shut down the Royals’ punchless offense for a career-best eight innings, and the White Sox roughed up Kansas City starter Jeremy Guthrie in a rout.

Dayan Viciedo hit a three-run homer and Alejandro de Aza added a two-run shot for the White Sox, who snapped a three-game skid with their best offensive output in nearly two weeks.

They scored twice in the first inning and five times in the third, when they chased Guthrie (7-5) from the game.

Santiago (3-5) gave up just three hits and a walk, and Eric Hosmer’s homer in the sixth represented the only run Santiago has allowed to the Royals in 19 1-3 career innings.

ATHLETICS 6, MARINERS 3

SEATTLE — Yoenis Cespedes hit a pair of two-run homers and Bartolo Colon won his seventh straight start to lead the Athletics past the Mariners.

Cespedes homered in the first inning and again in the ninth for his third career multihomer game — all this month. Jed Lowrie and Coco Crisp also went deep for the Athletics, who maintained their one-game lead in the AL West over Texas.

Colon (10-2) gave up three runs and seven hits over eight innings, tying unbeaten Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers for most wins in the American League.

Nick Franklin hit a three-run homer for Seattle, which has lost three straight and five of six.

Hisashi Iwakuma (7-3) lost at home for the first time this season, giving up four runs and six hits.

PIRATES 5, ANGELS 2

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Gerrit Cole pitched four-hit ball into the seventh inning in his native Orange County, earning his third straight victory to open his major league career in the Pirates win over the Angels.

The Pirates’ 22-year-old right-hander out of Orange Lutheran High School and UCLA dazzled the Angels in his first career road start, repeatedly hitting 100 mph on Angel Stadium’s radar gun. He struck out five and retired 11 straight before Albert Pujols’ leadoff homer in the seventh.

Cole (3-0) outpitched Angels ace Jered Weaver (1-4), who yielded nine hits and four runs over six rocky innings in his fourth straight winless start.

Pedro Alvarez and Jordy Mercer homered in the second inning of the Pirates’ first game in Anaheim since 2007.

 

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