PITTSBURGH — Cole Hamels insists that leading the major leagues in losses doesn’t bother him and he has been able to keep a positive attitude in the most difficult season of his eight-year career.
“I’ve played a lot of baseball and I’ve pitched in a lot of games, and I know I’m going to play a lot more baseball and pitch in a lot more games,” Hamels said. “I know that my record is just kind of a blip on the radar and you have to be who you are.”
Hamels looked more like a former World Series MVP on Thursday as he pitched seven strong innings, Carlos Ruiz hit a tiebreaking single and the Phillies beat Gerrit Cole and the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-4 Thursday.
Hamels (3-11) gave up one earned run and five hits, striking out eight without a walk. He won for the first time since June 5.
“It was being able to get back to what I know, which is establish the strike zone early, then throw all my pitches,” Hamels said. “Ultimately, it was staying down in the zone. That’s where I’ve got hurt in the past. I get guys where I want them and not able to finish them off because I’m getting too many balls up in the zone.”
Cole (4-1) lost for the first time in the majors after becoming the first Pirates pitcher to win his first four career starts since Nick Maddox in 1907. Cole allowed three runs and eight hits in 51/3 innings.
“I thought he pitched well,” Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. “He’s a 22-year-old young man. He’s still learning, continuing to grow. He’s fun to watch.”
Hamels received some rare support as the Phillies have scored just 22 runs in his 11 losses.
Ben Revere had three of the Phillies’ 13 hits and two RBIs. Ruiz, Jimmy Rollins and Delmon Young each had two hits.
“It’s not so much the raw number of hits you have but what you get them,” Young said. “We were playing the best team in baseball with the Pirates. Their pitching has been outstanding and their offense has been lagging, but they’re winning because they hit in the clutch. That’s what we did today, and what we need to continue to do.”
Jonathan Papelbon worked a perfect ninth inning for his 17th save in 21 opportunities.
Ruiz’s two-run single came off Vin Mazzaro in the middle of a four-run sixth inning in which Cole was chased.
Ruiz, who sat out the first 25 games of the season after being suspended by Major League Baseball for testing positive for a banned stimulant, had driven in just four runs all year prior to Thursday.
Cole was removed after Ryan Howard walked with one out and Domonic Brown followed with a single.
Mazzaro, who had not allowed any of his 12 inherited runners to score this season, came on and gave up three straight singles. Young’s hit loaded the bases and Kevin Frandsen’s single tied it before Ruiz hit a liner to center to score Brown and Young and put Philadelphia ahead.
Revere capped the inning by driving in a run with a grounder.
“The Pirates have a really good bullpen but I think it made a difference when we were able to get Cole out of the game,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “He’s a good pitcher now and he’s going to be a real good pitcher. He was tough.”
Both teams complained about home plate umpire Chris Conroy’s strike zone and Cole seemed particularly upset after the walk to Howard, though he stopped short of being critical when asked about some close calls during that at-bat.
“I made a couple of pitches on the black (of the plate) but those pitches can go either way depending on the judgment,' Cole said. “I felt I made a couple of quality pitches.”
Pinch-hitter Michael Young’s sacrifice fly in the eighth extended the Phillies’ lead to 6-2.
The Pirates scored twice in the eighth on a pinch-hit RBI single by Garrett Jones and a double-play grounder by Andrew McCutchen.
McCutchen’s two-run double in the third opened the scoring. The Phillies cut the deficit to 2-1 on Revere’s RBI single in the fifth.
Starling Marte and Jose Tabata each had two hits for Pittsburgh, which has the best record in the majors, but has lost two of three since a nine-game winning streak. Marte ran his hitting streak to nine games.
Philadelphia won for just the 10th time in 25 games as it avoided dropping to a season-worst six games below .500. The Phillies won a series in Pittsburgh for the first time since 2008.
NOTES: Pittsburgh RHP A.J. Burnett is likely to come off the disabled list Sunday and start against the Cubs at Chicago, though Pirates manager Clint Hurdle would prefer the veteran make one minor league rehab start. Burnett, who has been out since June 9 with a strained right calf, insists he does not need to go on a rehab assignment. ... Manuel said he will rest Howard against certain left-handed starters but will not use him in a strict platoon with right-handed hitting John Mayberry Jr. ... Pirates SS Jordy Mercer got the day off after going 1 for 9 in the first two games of the series and making an error on Wednesday night that allowed a run to score. ... The Pirates open their three-game series with the Cubs on Friday with LHP Francisco Liriano (7-3, 2.23) pitching against RHP Jeff Samardzija (5-7, 3.34) ... The Phillies open a three-game home series with Atlanta on Friday night as LHP Cliff Lee (9-2, 2.59) faces RHP Tim Hudson (4-7, 4.22).