James Shields had a respectable night on the mound for the San Diego Padres, whose bullpen let a close game get out of hand in an 11-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday night.

Gerrit Cole pitched six impressive innings for his first win this season and the Pirates avoided a three-game sweep.

Shields (0-3) allowed three runs and five hits in six innings, struck out five and walked two.

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"I made my pitches, did my job," Shields said. "Today's a battle for me and I got through six. Those games happen. You don't have your good stuff and you grind on. That's all you can ask for. Obviously I want to do a better job, there's no doubt about it."

Shields and catcher Christian Bethancourt struggled to get on the same page, particularly in the two-run fourth, when Shields threw two wild pitches.

"He's all right. He puts in a good effort back there," Shields said. "That's all you can ask for. We definitely need to get together and work. I'm a tough pitcher to call games and catch. I throw almost all of my pitches on both sides of the plate. It's tough, but he did a good job."

Manager Andy Green said Shields "is as difficult as anybody in the game to call a game for. He's just got so many different weapons and he's so cerebral and has so many ways he wants to go about attacking hitters, that he's not necessarily the easiest guy to follow his game plan on.

"They had a good rhythm in the sense that there were two out-of-the zone singles from (Josh) Harrison that plated basically the only two runs that scored other than the ball that got by Christian. So talking about way off, I don't know if that was the case."

Cole (1-2), who grew up in Newport Beach and pitched at UCLA, held San Diego to four singles while striking out seven and walking none. Only two Padres baserunners reached scoring position against Cole.

After scoring three runs against Shields (0-3) through four innings, the Pirates piled on with eight runs against two relievers in the seventh. John Jaso and Starling Marte had RBI doubles in the big inning while David Freese and Francisco Cervelli had two-run singles.

Leonel Campos, called up earlier in the day from Triple-A El Paso, allowed seven runs, five earned, while getting only one out in the big inning. He walked one, hit a batter and had a batter reach on a strikeout-passed ball.

Harrison had RBI singles in the second and fourth innings, both against Shields, and scored twice.

Shields allowed three runs and five hits in six innings, struck out five and walked two.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Padres: LHP Robbie Erlin went on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left elbow. He joins opening-day starter Tyson Ross as the second starter to be sidelined in the season's first month. The move is retroactive to Monday. ... Ross (inflamed right shoulder) and 2B Cory Spangenberg (left quad strain) both had MRIs on Thursday. Green said Ross will be out two more weeks but won't need surgery.

UP NEXT

Pirates: LHP Jonathon Niese (2-0, 3.50 ERA) is scheduled to start Friday night in the opener of a three-game series at Arizona, which will counter with LHP Patrick Corbin (1-1, 2.75).

Padres: RHP Andrew Cashner (0-1, 5.40) is scheduled to start Friday night in the opener of a three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals, who will counter with RHP Adam Wainright (0-2, 8.27).