(AP) Pirates’ 1-0 win at Texas clinches winning season
By STEPHEN HAWKINS
AP Sports Writer
Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle had no special message for his team and there was no big celebration after what was a special victory for their long-suffering fans.
With their 1-0 victory at Texas on Monday night, the Pirates clinched their first winning season since 1992. But victory No. 82 was really just another step toward their goal of getting into the playoffs.
Before rookie right-hander Gerrit Cole (7-7) threw seven scoreless innings with a career-high nine strikeouts to win a pitcher’s duel against Yu Darvish, the Pirates hadn’t had a winning season in more than two decades _ since the last of their three consecutive NL championship series appearances under manager Jim Leyland. Their last postseason before that was the 1979 World Series championship team.
Pittsburgh had lost a season-high four games in a row since getting their 81st victory last Tuesday at Milwaukee.
The Pirates (82-61) didn’t get a runner to second base against Darvish (12-8) until Marlon Byrd’s two-out double in the seventh. He came home when Pedro Alvarez, mired in a 5-for-41 slump over 12 games, followed with a double.
They finally have their winning season after taking the opener of a three-game interleague series between wild-card leaders.
The Pirates moved within a game of NL Central-leading St. Louis, which swept Pittsburgh in three games over the weekend.
Texas lost for the fourth time in five games, and still needs one more win to clinch its fifth consecutive winning season. The Rangers dropped two games behind idle AL West-leading Oakland.
Darvish is 0-3 his last five starts, all Rangers losses. The Japanese right-hander struck out six while allowing one run and four hits over seven innings. He threw a season-low 81 pitches before coming out because of cramping in his right leg.
Manager Ron Washington said the move was precautionary.
Cole got out of a self-induced jam in the sixth after consecutive walks to Elvis Andrus and Alex Rios, his only walks in the game. Andrus got his 38th career stolen base _ the Rangers pulled off a double steal when Rios reached before Adrian Beltre grounded out.
Tony Watson pitched a perfect eighth, his 14th consecutive scoreless outing. Mark Melancon worked the ninth for his 12th save in 14th chances to close out Pittsburgh’s 16th shutout of the season.
The Rangers said Darvish started feeling the cramps during the seventh. There was a short delay after the Rangers took the field in the eighth before Tanner Scheppers came out of the bullpen.
NOTES: It was the 14th 1-0 game ever at Rangers Ballpark, which is in its 20th season. It was the second this season, both Rangers losses. … Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen had a leadoff triple in the ninth. He was thrown out trying to score on Justin Morneau’s chopper to second baseman Ian Kinsler. … Rangers LF Jim Adduci left the game after his at-bat in the fifth inning, when he sustained a right biceps strain while striking out. … Darvish upped his major league-leading strikeout total to 246. … Beltre was 1 for 22 over six games before his two-out single in the ninth.