ST. LOUIS — Gerrit Cole and the Pirates played a game of role reversal Friday, and pulled even with the Cardinals.
The rookie gave up two hits in six dominant innings and also had an RBI, Pedro Alvarez homered for the second straight day and Pittsburgh beat St. Louis 7-1 to even their NL Division Series at 1.
The top overall draft pick in 2011, Cole made only 19 starts after being called up in June. But down a game and in a hostile environment, manager Clint Hurdle rolled the dice.
"Cole's experience is what it is," he said. "That being said, he's a young man that has the wherewithal to go out and compete in a large venue on a large stage."
Cole, 23, relied on a fastball that hit 99 mph. After Carlos Beltran's double in the first, he retired 11 straight before Yadier Molina homered in the fifth. Each time the sell-out crowd got loud, Cole responded. After Molina's homer, he struck out Jon Jay. After a walk to Matt Carpenter in the sixth, he struck out Beltran looking.
"You just try and clear you mind after every pitch and just look forward," Cole said. "You just have to take a deep breath."
St. Louis starter Lance Lynn, meanwhile, hadn't gotten out of the fourth in two playoff starts. But manager Mike Matheny chose him based on a strong September (2-1, 2.13 ERA over five starts) and a 9-3 home record. Friday, he didn't get out of the fifth. "When I made a mistake with the fastball, they were ready for it," he said.
Alvarez doubled and scored on Cole's single in the second. (Jordy Mercer was walked intentionally ahead of Cole.) Alvarez hit a two-run homer in the third.
"I'm not a gambler by nature," Matheny said. "Just take the information in. We were really happy with how all of our starters ended the season."