Cole tries to break through for Pirates against Nats

Gerrit Cole was the first Pittsburgh pitcher since Nick Maddox in 1907 to win each of his first four major league starts. Cole, though, hasn't posted a win over his last three appearances.

The rookie right-hander tries to snap the drought Tuesday when the Pirates continue their four-game series against the Washington Nationals.

Cole makes the second road start of his career. His first came June 21 against the Angels and he allowed four hits and a pair of runs over 6 1/3 innings in a 5-2 victory.

Most recently, Cole was tagged with the loss against the Mets on July 14 when he allowed six hits and three runs over five innings. The first overall pick in 2011, Cole hasn't given up more than three earned runs in any of his first seven big league starts.

Taylor Jordan aims for his first victory in the majors when he takes the mound for the Nationals. The 23-year-old righty didn't get a decision July 14 at Miami when he allowed a pair of runs in six innings. That's the longest stint of his first four major league starts.

Last night, Andrew McCutchen belted a pair of two-run homers and the Pirates held on for a 6-5 victory.

The win may have come at a cost, though, as closer Jason Grilli exited in the ninth inning with an apparent arm injury.

Charlie Morton (2-2) gave up three runs on six hits in 6 2/3 innings of work to pick up the win, Pittsburgh's second straight after losing three in a row.

The victory didn't come easy.

Jayson Werth took Grilli deep in the ninth for his second two-run homer of the night to pull Washington within a run. Denard Span made it even more interesting with a one-out double and Grilli exited with two outs after throwing a pitch to pinch-hitter Steve Lombardozzi.

Vin Mazzaro relieved the injured Grilli and induced a game-ending groundout to pick up his first save of the year.

Jordy Mercer and Russell Martin each had two hits and scored a run for the Pirates, who won despite going 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

Dan Haren (4-11) took another one in the loss column, surrendering five runs on five hits and one walk over his five-inning start. Haren has dropped his last eight decisions and the Nationals are 0-11 in his starts since mid-May.

Washington, which fired hitting coach Rick Eckstein on Monday, also received a solo blast from Adam LaRoche in addition to Werth's second consecutive multi- home run effort.

The Nationals won two of three from the Pirates earlier this season, May 3-5 at PNC Park.