Gerrit Cole struck out a career-high 12 batters while Pedro Alvarez and Neil Walker homered in the fourth inning to lead the Pirates to a 10-1 win over the San Diego Padres Thursday at PNC Park avoiding a four-game series sweep.

The win moves the Pirates (88-65) within 1.5 games of the National League Central-leading Cardinals who play at Colorado later today.
Cole earned his third-straight win to improve to 9-7 after enduring a 2-7 stretch through the months of July and August. The rookie set his previous career high of nine strikeouts 10 days ago in a game against the Texas Rangers.

The Pirates offense finally awoke with a five-run fourth inning matching the amount of runs it had scored in the entire series up to that point.

Pedro Alvarez hit a one-out home run to right-center field and Jose Tabata later scored Tony Sanchez and Jordy Mercer with a two-out double. Next up was Neil Walker who capped the inning with a home run that chased San Diego start Ian Kennedy after 3 2/3 innings.

The Pirates added three more runs in the seventh. Tabata and Walker batting first and second combined to go 6 for 8 with seven RBIs. Tabata started in left field Thursday because Starling Marte was at the hospital with his wife who was in labor.