PITTSBURGH (AP) – Gerrit Cole pitched six effective innings, Pedro Alvarez homered and the Pittsburgh Pirates swept Milwaukee 5-2 Sunday, leaving the Brewers with their worst start in team history.
Milwaukee dropped its fifth straight game and fell to 2-10, the poorest record in the majors.
Cole (2-0) improved to 9-1 in his last 10 decisions at PNC Park, and has won six straight overall. He gave up two runs and struck out six.
Alvarez hit his fourth homer of the season, Josh Harrison had two hits and Chris Stewart added a two-run single in the sixth off Matt Garza (1-2).
Pittsburgh has won five of seven, including three in a row over Milwaukee, to get back to .500 after losing its first three games of the season. Mark Melancon worked the ninth for his second save.
Jonathan Lucroy had two of Milwaukee’s five hits. Garza surrendered five runs in six innings.
The Pirates began the series hitting just .207 as a team, the lowest in the National League. That number improved to .222 after a weekend in which Pittsburgh outscored the reeling Brewers 17-7.
Milwaukee’s shaky play did little to help Garza. An error, a wild pitch and an RBI single by Andrew McCutchen put the Pirates ahead 2-0 in the first.
Milwaukee evened it in the second on a run-scoring groundout by Jean Segura and an RBI single by Lucroy but the Brewers could get little else going against Cole.
The hyper-intense righty is growing into the staff cornerstone the team envisioned when it selected him with the top overall pick in the 2011 draft, particularly when he pitches at home.
Cole is now 6-0 with a 3.06 ERA in his last eight starts overall dating to last September and is 13-6 at PNC Park since making his debut on June 11, 2013.
The Brewers offered little resistance after the second. Cole struck out four in a row at one point and allowed just one baserunner over his final four innings. That was plenty of time for Pittsburgh to get to Garza.
Alvarez hit a solo homer into the Milwaukee bullpen behind the center field fence in the third to put the Pirates up 3-2 in the third.
Pittsburgh added on in the sixth, though it came at a price. Garza hit Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer with a pitch while Mercer was attempting to bunt. He left with rib discomfort and was replaced by Jung Ho Kang, who scored along with Alvarez on a sharp single to left by Stewart.
Pirates: Pitcher Charlie Morton will likely make one more start in an extended spring training game before a decision is made on when he could return to Pittsburgh. Morton is recovering from hip surgery.
Brewers: Milwaukee begins a weeklong homestand on Monday when it starts a four-game set against Cincinnati. The Brewers went 9-10 against the Reds last season and haven’t beaten Cincinnati in a season series since 2006. Wily Peralta is 3-3 with a 2.88 ERA in six starts versus the Reds.
Pirates: Pittsburgh opens a four-game series with the Chicago Cubs on Monday. The Pirates are 14-6 against the Cubs over the last two seasons at PNC Park. A.J. Burnett (0-1, 2.25 ERA) gets the start. Burnett is 7-4 with a 3.25 ERA in 13 career starts against Chicago.