PITTSBURGH (AP) — Look who has the best record in the major leagues.
Gerrit Cole overcame a rocky start to become the first Pirates pitcher to win his first four career starts in more than a century and the Pirates won their seventh straight, 10-3 over the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Pirates moved a game up in the NL Central when the St. Louis Cardinals lost later at Oakland. At 49-30, Pittsburgh has the best record in baseball.
Cole (4-0) gave up three runs in the first inning but no more as he made it through six innings, allowing eight hits with three walks and three strikeouts. Nick Maddox started 4-0 in his first four starts in 1907.
“It’s really a team effort,” Cole said. “I’ve pitched pretty well but I’ve gotten a lot of support defensively and our offense has been very opportunistic. It feels good to say I’m 4-0 but it feels even better because the team is playing well.”
The Pirates are on their longest winning streak since running off 10 in a row in 2004.
The Pirates haven’t had a winning season since 1992 and the 20-year stretch of futility is the longest in major North American professional team sports history. However, they are not getting caught up in being in the rarified air of being 19 games over .500 in June.
“We’re just focused on winning that day,” Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. “Our guys our very focused on taking it pitch to pitch.”
Johnny Hellweg (0-1) failed to get out of the second inning in his major league debut, giving up seven runs — five earned — in 1 2-3 innings.
“He didn’t come out with very good stuff,” Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said. “He was trying to aim the ball instead of throw it. That happens a lot of times when it’s a guy’s first time out.”
Starling Marte had a double and triple among his three hits, and just missed a homer in the eighth when he flied out to deep center field.
McCutchen had three hits, including his ninth home run, and three RBIs for Pittsburgh. Pedro Alvarez added two hits and Neil Walker hit a two-run double to start a seven-run second inning in which the Pirates sent 12 batters to the plate.
Alvarez extended his hitting streak to 11 games
Ryan Reid pitched three scoreless innings for his first career save. He was called up from Triple-A Indianapolis on June 3 after spending seven seasons in the minor leagues.
“It’s really nice to get a save but it’s even better to help the team win,” said Reid, who has a 1.00 ERA in six games. “I feel good about being able to come up here and help the team keep winning.”
Carlos Gomez, who missed the previous three games with a sprained right shoulder, had two hits for the Brewers. Jean Segura and Juan Francisco also had two hits apiece. Rickie Weeks ran his hitting streak to 13 games.
Walker’s double got the Pirates to 3-2, scoring Garrett Jones and Alvarez, who led off with singles.
The Pirates then loaded the bases as Hellweg walked Travis Snider and Cole around a groundout by Jordy Mercer. Marte then singled home Walker with the tying run.
The Pirates went ahead when Russell Martin followed by hitting a grounder up the middle that Segura, the shortstop, misplayed for an error, allowing Snider and Cole to score. McCutchen and Alvarez followed with RBI singles to knock the 6-foot-9 Hellweg from the game.
“We had some trouble with (Hellweg) in the first inning,” McCutchen said. “He’s so big and he was throwing sinkers from a downhill angle at a time when there still were shadows on the field. Then we got adjusted to him.”
Milwaukee acquired Hellweg and Segura, who leads the National League with 104 hits, last July from the Los Angeles Angles in a trade for ace pitcher Zack Greinke. Hellweg was 7-4 with a 2.82 ERA in 14 starts with Triple-A Nashville this season.
“I wanted to have a good pace, I thought that was important in my first game, but I really started rushing things, especially in that second inning,” Hellweg said.
The Brewers jumped on Cole for three quick runs.
A walk to Norichika Aoki and singles by Segura and Gomez loaded the bases and Aramis Ramirez walked to force in a run. A second run scored when Jonathan Lucroy grounded into a double play and Francisco capped the inning with an RBI single.
However, the 3-0 lead held up only for one inning, and the Pirates added on runs following their seven-run second. Marte hit an RBI double in the third and tripled in the sixth and scored on McCutchen’s double. McCutchen homered off Michael Gonzalez in the eighth.
“I was on the ropes and the pitch count was getting up there in that first inning but I got some groundballs in the second, guys made some really good plays behind and that settled me down,” Cole said.
NOTES: Brewers 1B Corey Hart will miss the season. He is scheduled to have surgery to repair cartilage damage in his left knee July 26. Hart has been on the disabled list all season after having right knee surgery in January. … Snider left the game after six innings with a bruised right foot. … Milwaukee activated RHP Hiram Burgos from the 15-day disabled list and optioned him to Triple-A Nashville. … The Pirates recalled INF/OF Josh Harrison from Triple-A Indianapolis and optioned C Tony Sanchez to the same club. … Milwaukee RHP Donovan Hand (0-0, 2.37) faces Pittsburgh LHP Francisco Liriano (6-3, 2.30) on Saturday night.