Cole befuddled after looking more hittable than ever

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Gerrit Cole turns back toward home after failing to field Josh Reddick's first-inning bunt. - GETTY

LOS ANGELES -- Clint Hurdle's pregame theory went like this: Pitchers can get in trouble with high pitch counts when they either a) nibble around the strike zone, or b) try to overthrow and miss as a result.

Neither of those maladies afflicted Gerrit Cole on Saturday at Dodger Stadium. The reason he couldn't get out of the fifth in the Pirates' rather excruciating 8-4 loss was rather simple: The Dodgers hit him hard and hit him often.

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The manner in which Los Angeles raked Cole has to be concerning on some level, because this isn't a new trend.

Even before he gave up a career-high 12 hits in his native Southern California, Cole had been allowing 8.8 hits per nine innings this season, the worst rate of his four-year career.