AKRON, Ohio - Gerrit Cole had one bad inning and labored through four innings, throwing 81 pitches, but that wasn't the reason the Curve lost a close game to Akron on Saturday night.
Altoona's offense failed to cash in on numerous opportunities and made one very costly baserunning blunder in a 4-3 loss to the Aeros at Canal Park.
The Curve got an RBI triple from Brock Holt with no outs in the ninth inning to pull within a run. They had the heart of their order up with a chance to bring in the tying run, but three of their best hitters - Matt Curry, Oscar Tejeda and Adalberto Santos - each struck out to leave Holt stranded.
Rob Bryson squirmed out of that jam in the ninth to earn his first save for Akron. Shawn Armstrong (1-0) won in relief.
Cole, the Pirates' No. 1 prospect who was making his fourth start for the Curve, tossed three scoreless innings to start the game. He allowed a pair of one-out singles in the first inning but worked out of that jam.
The Curve committed a costly baserunning blunder in the second inning that cost them a run. Curry was at third and Santos at second with one out when Jarek Cunningham hit what appeared to be a sacrifice fly to center fielder Tyler Holt.
The ball was deep enough to score Curry easily, and he was running to the plate. But Santos tried to tag up from second to third and was thrown out before Curry could cross the plate, negating the run.
The Curve were able to grab a 2-0 lead in the fourth, but even then they cost themselves once again. Curry was at third and tried to come home on a grounder to shortstop but was thrown out by Juan Diaz.
That was costly because two batters later, Quincy Latimore ripped a two-run double that scored Cunningham and Stefan Welch.
The lead didn't last long, however, as Cole had all sorts of problems in the bottom of the fourth.
Thomas Neal doubled to start the inning, then Diaz belted a two-run homer to tie the game. Ryan Rohlinger followed with a double and went to third on a single by Adam Abraham.
Cole minimized the damage by getting a double play groundout from Roberto Perez, but that scored Rohlinger to give Akron the lead for good.
Cole (2-2) got out of the fourth but was lifted because of his elevated pitch count. He gave up six hits and three runs with three strikeouts and one walk in his four innings.
The right-hander's ERA stands at 5.17 through four Double-A starts, and his next scheduled appearance is Thursday at Peoples Natural Gas Field against Erie.
The Curve had eight hits and drew seven walks, but all the offensive mistakes limited them to just the three runs. Robbie Grossman went 2-for-4 to extend his on-base streak to 26 games, and Holt added two hits.
Reliever Vic Black gave up a run in the eighth, the first one he's allowed since May 26.
Cleveland Indians lefty reliever Rafael Perez made a rehab appearance for the Aeros and pitched a scoreless first inning. He's been on the major league disabled list since April 26 with a strained latissimus muscle
Key player: Akron SS Juan Diaz had a two-run homer and threw out a Curve runner at the plate.
Key play: The Curve ran themselves out of two runs, in the second inning and the fourth.
Key stat: RHP Gerrit Cole has a 5.17 ERA through four starts.
How they scored
Top 4th: Welch reached on fielder's choice, Cunningham reached on fielder's choice, both scored on Latimore double (2-0).
Bottom 4th: Neal doubled, scored on Diaz two-run homer (2-2); Rohlinger doubled, scored on Perez double play groundout (2-3).
Bottom 8th: Holt walked, scored on fielder's choice/Welch error (2-4).
Top 9th: Grossman walked, scored on Holt triple (3-4).