PITTSBURGH — Jameson Taillon walked off the mound for the final time Monday night, sat in the dugout and felt fortunate to have pitched once again in the major leagues.
Taillon worked five scoreless innings in his return from treatments for testicular cancer and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Colorado Rockies 7-2.
“I Just got to step back and enjoy the moment and realize that I was back,” Taillon said. “It was special to see all my teammates. The Pirates, the coaches, the medical staff, management, the players, everyone was with me every step. It was special.”
Taillon (3-1) allowed five hits, walked two and struck out five. The 25-year-old had surgery May 8, four days after losing to the Reds at Cincinnati, then made three rehab starts in the minor leagues.
“He pitched well,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “His command wasn’t anything close to what we’ve seen in the past. He went out there and he pitched. It was fun to watch. He had to roll up his sleeves and go to work.”
Josh Harrison hit a two-run home run, his eighth, in the first inning off Kyle Freeland (7-4). Harrison, David Freese and Jose Osuna each had two hits for the Pirates.
Freeland, a rookie, lost for the first time in seven road starts by giving up five runs (four earned) and nine hits in 5 2/3 innings. Freeland failed to pitch the past the sixth inning for just the second time in his last 10 starts and allowed a home run in a sixth consecutive outing.
“The sinker is my bread-and-butter pitch, especially against right-handed hitters, and they figured out the movement on it pretty quickly and barreled them up,” Freeland said.
The NL West-leading Rockies dropped their second straight game following a seven-game winning streak. Pittsburgh won its third straight.
Freese hit an RBI double and scored on Andrew McCutchen’s single in the third, extending the Pirates’ lead to 4-0.
The Rockies got their first run in the sixth when Trevor Story broke an 0-for-15 skid with an RBI single, but the Pirates countered with a run in the sixth and two in the seventh to break the game open at 7-1.
Colorado’s Nolan Arenado had three hits, and DJ LeMahieu and Pat Valaika added two each.
The Rockies went 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 runners.
“That was uncharacteristic for us because we’ve swinging the bats well lately,” Colorado manager Bud Black said. “Sometimes, you just have games like this.”
Rockies right-hander Chad Bettis is also recovering from testicular cancer. He spoke with Taillon on the phone last month and plans to visit with him before the three-game series ends Wednesday night.
“I guess it was meant to be for me to be here to see his first start back,” Bettis said. “It’s a very positive step forward for him and I’m very happy.”
Bettis is also upbeat about his recovery. He rejoined the Rockies last week after his final round of chemotherapy in Phoenix and is currently throwing off flat ground from 120 feet.
BACK TO INDY
The Pirates optioned infielder Phil Gosselin to Triple-A Indianapolis to open a roster spot for Taillon, who was activated from the disabled list. Gosselin has hit .135 in 24 games during two stints with Pittsburgh this season.
FEELING A DRAFT
The Pirates selected right-hander Shane Baz from Concordia Lutheran High School in Tomball, Texas with their first-round pick, 12th overall, in the amateur draft. The Rockies forfeited their first-round pick for signing left fielder Ian Desmond as a free agent.
Rockies RHP Tyler Chatwood (6-7, 4.37 ERA) starts Tuesday night against RHP Gerrit Cole (3-6, 4.83). Chatwood has won both his starts in June, allowing two runs in 14 innings. Cole is 1-3 with a 10.73 ERA in his past four starts, giving up 23 runs and 39 hits in 19 1/3 innings.
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