ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Clinching their first winning season since 1992, rookie right-hander Gerrit Cole had a career-high nine strikeouts over seven innings to outpitch Yu Darvish and lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 1-0 victory over the Texas Rangers on Monday night.
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 followed with a double.
Pittsburgh had lost a season-high four games in a row since getting their 81st victory last Tuesday at Milwaukee to guarantee their first non-losing season in more than two decades.
They finally have their winning season after taking the opener of a three-game interleague series between wild-card leaders.
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.
Texas lost for the fourth time in five games, dropping two games behind idle AL West-leading Oakland. The Pirates moved within a game of NL Central-leading St. Louis, which swept Pittsburgh in three games over the weekend.
Cole (7-7) 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.
Texas, held scoreless for the ninth time this season, got only one other runner to second against Cole, who threw a wild pitch after Geovany Soto’s two-out single in the second.
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, while manager Ron Washington conferred with umpires, 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.