Gerrit Cole jumped ahead of Emilio Bonifacio 0-2, then missed badly with his next four offerings to issue a lead off walk. A bunt resulted in a force at second, but a 2-2 slider that hung over the plate was drilled into right by Freddy Freeman and the Braves had a quick 1-0 lead. Freeman had happy feet, and was thrown out at third trying to advance on the throw home. Good thing, too, as Justin Upton singled. He was tossed out trying to steal second; Atlanta ran itself out of a promising frame.
Gaby walked with an out in the second. The frame ended quickly when three pitches later Travis bounced a heater to second for a 4-6-3 DP.
Justin Heyward opened with a 3-2 walk, taking a fastball that could have gone either way. Christian Bethancourt singled on an 0-2 curve that caught too much plate; that's the second guy already that's reached after being in an 0-2 hole. Chris Johnson singled sharply up the middle on a ball Cole could only deflect to load the bases. Before it could get worse, Andrelton Simmons banged into a 4-6-3 DP as the Bucs traded the outs for a run. Wood whiffed with a 2-0 lead after two.
Pittsburgh went down in order in the third, thanks to a great diving snare of Josh's liner by SS Simmons. Gerrit worked a clean frame, too.
Cutch opened the fourth with a knock to right, and was chased to third an out later when Starling rolled a 3-2 change into center. Wood got a big out when he punched out Walker for the second time. The Bucs stole a run when their usually suicidal fake steal of second play worked; Cutch held up long enough to draw a throw to second, 2B Phil Gosselin couldn't come down with airmailed toss, and Andrew scored. Good time for it to click; Gaby K'ed looking. Cole worked a three-fly frame.
Travis made amends for his DP by hammering a first-pitch heater into the right field stands to tie the game in the fifth. Wood retired the next trio routinely. It was another rocking chair inning for Cole, who added a couple of strikeouts to his boodle bag.
Cutch began the sixth by rapping a full count change into left for a two-bagger. Russ banged a change, too, but his liner was right to Simmons. That's was OK; Starling picked a two-strike curve off his shins and dropped it into left for an RBI double. The Kid's slump continued as he popped out to first with Freeman making the grab over the railing. Gaby flew out, and that ended the inning with Pittsburgh up 3-2. Gerrit has retired 14 in a row with another clean frame. His velocity is down a tad, but he's dominating with 93-94 MPH fastballs.
With two gone in the seventh, Josh lined a single to left, banging on an 0-2 heater. That brought on David Carpenter; Wood was at 109 pitches. Good pick; he punched out Jordy with heat. Gregory Polanco went to right as Cole returned to the hill. And wow - three more down, two by strikes. That's five consecutive 1-2-3 innings by the Cole Train. A run or two of breathing room would be nice, though, as he's at 111 pitches.
Cutch walked to open the eighth, the third time he's reached as the lead-off hitter. Russ bounced into a force, and Marte almost gave the Bucs a pad, but his drive to straight center was grabbed on the track by Bonifacio in front of the 401' mark. Rven lefty, The Kid went down on three pitches. Jared Hughes came on. Jordy helped him out with a great play in the hole to retire Johnson, and it was big as Simmons drove a ball to right opposite the shift for a single. No sweat; Evan Gattis grounded the next pitch to Jordy for an inning-killing 6-4-3 DP.
Jason shreve took the ball in the ninth. He got Gaby on a tapper, K'ed El Coffee (with Hunter Wendestedt, who was pretty solid behind the plate, giving Shreve a couple of gift calls) and then surrendered a single to JT. Chase d'Arnaud came on to run, and got himself picked off.
Three outs to go and a one run lead for Tony Watson against the top of the Atlanta order. Tony K'ed Bonifacio, then gave Gosselin two heaters dwon the middle, with the second rocketed into center. Freeman banged one to Gaby, and the 3-6-3 guaranteed the Bucs a second trip into the post season as the Reds knocked off Milwaukee 3-1. Now it's just a matter of who and where.
The Braves had Cole on the ropes early, but some bad baserunning and a timely DP kept him alive, and he roared back to retire 17 straight Bravos. Big-game Cutch was on base four times and scored twice. It looked a lot like last year, with the D turning three DPs and Cole Train getting stronger as the game wore on.
Jeff Locke takes the bump versus Julio Teheran tomorrow night.
- Deja Vu All Over Again - the Bucs clinched a playoff spot on this day ayear ago against the Cubs; Starling Marte had the game winning RBI in that one, too, with a homer.
- Josh has a 11 game hitting streak; Russ' ended at 13 games.
- Tony Watson got the night off last game, and Clint Hurdle planned the same break tonight for Mark the Shark, who has tossed in 5-of-7 contests, though he didn't absolutely rule him out.
- One record is safe after tonight: The 1906 Cubs remain the only team to play four straight 1-0 games.