PHILADELPHIA — Gerrit Cole was in no mood for small talk after his first start in six weeks.
Did he feel normal?
About the same since before he was sidelined with right elbow inflammation?
Concerned about further injury by pitching longer than he did?
“No … umm …”
Cole’s answers were nearly as short as his rocky first outing for the fading Pittsburgh Pirates. Looking to jumpstart the Pirates and give them a flicker of hope in the NL wild-card race, the righty was roughed up in a 6-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday night.
The 26-year-old Cole (7-10) allowed five runs in two innings in his first start since Aug. 2 and threw just 29 of his 55 pitches for strikes.
“I know he’s not pleased with the result, and with the preparation he put into tonight, it’s understandable,” manager Clint Hurdle said.
The Pirates have lost 12 of 16 games and are about out of the wild-card picture.
“It was just a bad night,” Cole said. It’s not what we needed.”
A day after he was promoted to the big leagues, Roman Quinn had two hits, two RBIs, a stolen base for the Phillies. Quinn, an accomplished base stealer and the Phillies’ second-round draft pick in 2011, could be a fixture in the outfield next season.
With the Phillies long out of contention, manager Pete Mackanin is likely to take a long look in September at a player who could become a starter in 2017 when they hope to inch toward contention.
Quinn doubled in the second and sixth innings to help the Phillies snap a seven-game home losing streak.
“I strained my oblique in June and didn’t think I was going to get a call-up at all,” he said. “I just had good people around me. My parents helped me a lot and my fiancé helped me a lot, too. They helped me keep my confidence and they encouraged me a lot.”
Quinn’s two-run double in the second one-hopped the wall as part of a five-run inning that made it a short night for Cole.
Cole had two of his strikeouts against Ryan Howard.
Once one of the most feared hitters in baseball, Howard is limping toward the finish line of his final season with the Phillies. He entered hitting .195 and each hitless game puts even a measly .200 average out of reach.
Phillies centerfielder Odubel Herrera also has slumped in the second half — the All-Star saw an average that reached .319 through 51 games dip to .275 on Monday.
It’s one more reason the Phillies want to play Quinn in September. He had his first career stolen base (he stole 31 for Double-A Reading) in the first inning to ignite his night.
“It’s a nice feeling to have that kind of speed up front,” Mackanin said. “I don’t want to get carried away but it was nice to see.”
Mackanin said Herrera would stay in center for the rest of the season. He would make a decision on where the outfielders play in spring training.
Jeremy Hellickson (11-9) struck out six and allowed an unearned run over 6 1/3 innings for the win. Freddy Galvis hit his 18th homer of the season.
Pirates reliever Juan Nicasio struck out five in two scoreless innings. He has at least one strikeout in 26 straight appearances.
Pirates: 2B Josh Harrison will likely miss the rest of the season with a strained right groin. Harrison was injured Saturday after legging out a two-run double. In 131 games this season, Harrison is hitting .283 with four home runs and 19 stolen bases.
Harrison was expected to miss four to six weeks, which would cost him the rest of the season. But he hoped he could return if the sub.-500 Pirates made the postseason.
“There’s still a chance if we make a run, you may see me back if we somehow find our way,” he said.
Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova (5-0, 2.53 ERA) pitches Tuesday night in the second game of the series. He has 32 strikeouts and walked only two in his first seven starts for the Pirates since he was acquired from the New York Yankees on Aug. 1. He tossed a complete game against the Reds in his last start.
Phillies: RHP Alec Asher (1-0) makes his second start of the season in his return from an 80-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs. Asher tossed six scoreless innings in a win against the Nationals. The Phillies acquired Asher last year from Texas in the Cole Hamels deal.