PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates had a plan for Gerrit Cole when they drafted the hard-throwing right-hander with the top pick in the 2011 amateur draft. Air Force 1 Online . They hoped Cole would develop into one of the franchise cornerstones, and two years later he may already be there. The 23-year-old dominated the San Diego Padres on Thursday, striking out 12 to lead the Pirates to a 10-1 romp and stop a three-game losing streak. Pittsburgh moved a game in front of Cincinnati for the top wild card spot in the NL after Cole (9-7) pitched his third straight gem. "He continues to grow right in front of our eyes," manager Clint Hurdle said. Cole is 3-0 with a 0.90 ERA and 28 strikeouts in his last three starts, each following a Pittsburgh loss. Overwhelming the Padres with a fastball topping out in the high 90s and a curveball seeming to improve by the pitch, Cole prevented a sweep that would have put a dent in his teams pursuit of its first division title since 1992. "We just couldnt get to the fastball," San Diego manager Bud Black said. "I think we knew it was coming but he located some pitches, threw down and away well. He pitched in. He pitched up (and) mixed it up a little bit with the slider and the changeup." And for once, Cole received some help at the plate. Held to four runs and 11 hits in the first three games of the series, the Pirates pounced on starter Ian Kennedy (6-10) for six runs while putting together their biggest offensive outburst in nearly a month. Neil Walker had four hits, including his 11th homer of the season, and drove in three runs while Pedro Alvarez hit his NL-leading 34th homer for Pittsburgh. Jose Tabata added two hits and three RBIs as the Pirates regained some momentum heading into the biggest series in the 12-year history of PNC Park. "If you would have told us we were going to win one of four in this last series, Ill take the last one, thats for sure," Walker said. "Its certainly not the best feeling. This wasnt our best series playing a team people probably think we should beat, but thats baseball." And meaningful baseball at that, something not seen in September in Pittsburgh since Barry Bonds was hitting balls over the fence at Three Rivers Stadium in 1992. The Pirates ended 20 years of losing earlier this month and have their sights set on a playoff spot. Pittsburgh inched closer to extending its season beyond Sept. 29 by showcasing the resiliency thats become the teams trademark. The Pirates were in position to beat San Diego on Wednesday night when closer Mark Melancon surrendered two runs in the ninth to blow his third save of the season. Given 12 hours to get over it, they responded emphatically. Coles main weakness may be that he gets too fired up. His ERA in the first inning rose to 6.00 when Tommy Medicas two-out RBI single gave the Padres an early lead. It was the lone hiccup on a day he bolstered his case to earn a start in October if the Pirates make it that far. Pittsburgh can get there if it can find any sort of consistency at the plate. After gasping for three days, they rediscovered some pop against a team at the end of a wearying 10-game road trip. Making a spot start while leadoff hitter Starling Marte spent the day in the hospital helping his wife welcome their first child, Tabata scored on a fielders-choice grounder by Andrew McCutchen to tie it in the first. Three innings later, Alvarez crushed a belt-high Kennedy pitch and sent it nearly to the concourse behind the seats in centre for just his second home run in 22 games. The homer sent a jolt through Pittsburghs dugout. Tabata hit a two-run double with two outs, and Walker followed with a shot to right that climbed just over the top of the Clemente Wall for a 6-1 lead. Cole worked out of a two-on, two-out jam in the fifth and completed his career day by striking out Nick Hundley swinging. The burly right-hander pumped his first in celebration as he walked off the mound. The Pirates hadnt won a game by more than two runs since knocking off Milwaukee 5-2 on Sept. 2. NOTES: Hurdle said he hasnt set a rotation for the final week of the season. If the Pirates dont make any changes, ace Francisco Liriano would be available to pitch the opening game of the post-season. Liriano (16-7, 2.29 ERA) will start Friday night against Cincinnatis Mat Latos (14-6, 3.14) ... Pittsburgh C Tony Sanchez had 2 of his teams 14 hits and made an acrobatic grab in the eighth when he hauled in a foul pop by Chris Denorfia, flipping into the Padres dugout in the process ... San Diego begins a three-game series at home on Friday against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Robbie Erlin (2-3, 5.18 ERA) will face Edinson Volquez (9-11, 5.94). Air Force 1 Cheap . Certainly not Monday night. George Hill took care of the early work, scoring a season-high 26 points, and Paul George closed it out by scoring 11 of his 26 points during a decisive second-half stretch that finally allowed Indiana to pull away from Minnesota 98-84 for yet another win. Air Force 1 Sale .Brazil midfielder Ricardo Goulart scored the winner in the 50th minute to give the defending champion a four-point advantage in the standings over second-place Sao Paulo, which beat rival Palmeiras 2-0.Bobby Ryan cant help but worry sometimes. In just his second game with the Ottawa Senators, he made a mistake on the power play and envisioned the consequence as he skated back to the bench. "OK, thats your last opportunity and good luck on another unit," he told himself. Its a mentality that comes from playing parts of five seasons under coach Randy Carlyle. Since then, Ryan has run the gamut on coaching personalities through his time with Bruce Boudreau and now Paul MacLean. Going from one extreme to the other, Ryan adjusted on the fly as he came into his own as an NHL scorer. "With Randy you had a hard-pressed, aggressive coach and then you went to Bruce, who was fairly lackadaisical in, I wouldnt want to say his approach to the game, but his systematic plays," Ryan said. "He was different like that, but he gave you opportunities to really create offensively. And then I think Macs kind of that hybrid in between both of them. He gives you space to make plays and do things, but hes also demanding. You have to stick to the structure, and if you stick to those Xs and Os thats where he lets the skill come through." Skill has never been a question for Ryan, a four-time 30-goal scorer whos off to the best start of his NHL career and should be a lock for the U.S. Olympic team in Sochi. It has been more a question of how three coaches approached managing his talent. Ryan scored 112 goals in the 274 games Carlyle spent behind the bench. Before the Ducks fired Carlyle in late November 2011, a strained relationship with Ryan had the winger on the trade block. "Everybody knows my history with Randy," Ryan said this week while making it clear that Carlyle was always fair to him. Before the Senators faced the Toronto Maple Leafs during the pre-season, Carlyle was effusive in his praise. "I think Bobby was a young kid that had a different body make-up from what he is now. He put (in) a lot of time and effort, and its a tribute to him to get himself in the type of condition that he is now versus where he came out of junior," he said. "Bobbys growing into a pretty mature hockey player both on and off the ice." Carlyles heavy-handed style played a role in that growth, but Ryan got more freedom under Boudreau, who learned a little about handling star scorers from coaching Alex Ovechkin with the Washington Capitals. "Really great players — Ovi, Bobby Ryan, the Jason Spezzas, the (Ryan) Getzlafs — if you try to tell them how to be creative, its not a smart move because they see things that you cant see," Boudreau said. "Its like they got another sense about them when people are around or where people are or stuff like that. You just have to give them a lot of offensive-free latitude." But thats not to say Boudreau gave Ryan a free pass. He asked him to try playing centre when the Ducks were weak there and came away impressed with how the young star handled that and other suggestions. "Bobby was really easy, and he was also very acceptable in anything I asked him to do," Boudreau said. "Id have him in my office just because I talk to the players a lot, but Id have him in and hed be very receptive to any ideas I had. I listened to him on any ideas he had and I thought I was receptive to thhem. Air Force 1 Clearance. I thought the relationship was pretty good." That relationship ended July 5 when the Ducks traded Ryan to the Senators following an 11-goal, 48-game season. His days of playing Boudreaus fire-wagon style of up-tempo hockey were over, but MacLean continued the trend of instilling more confidence and trust in Ryan. The 26-year-old already faced his former team this season and will see Boudreau and the Ducks again Friday in Ottawa. Ryan saw similarities in Boudreau and MacLeans interactions with players, but not their approaches to hockey. Boudreau won the Jack Adams Award in 2007-08 based on offence and an incredible Capitals turnaround, while MacLean won it last season for leading the Senators to the playoffs amid injuries to Spezza, defenceman Erik Karlsson, goaltender Craig Anderson and others. "Obviously you dont win the Jack Adams Award by not being able to speak to your players and get through to your players," Ryan said. "Im looking forward to having a relationship like that and being able to build on that throughout time." It has started well as Ryan has six goals and three assists in nine games. That mistake Ryan made on the power play earlier this season didnt cost him another chance, and as a result hes not playing scared. "You dont have to tighten up or whatnot and you can let it go and play," he said. "Theres been situations on the ice where Id like to have things back, but weve had a lot of good talks between us about that kind of stuff. Hes given me the confidence to let me know that theyre going to put me right back out and get me right back into the situation again." Ryan is still adjusting to differences in Eastern Conference play compared to the West, like how much extra space he has to gain the offensive zone when hes carrying the puck. But across the spectrum of his play, the transition to Ottawa has been "fairly seamless." Since seeing Ryan in camp, MacLean never worried about that adjustment and praised his consistency along the way. MacLean wants Ryan to play with a sense of freedom, but hes not giving him special treatment. "I think its our job to not just coach Bobby Ryan. We have 23 guys that we have to coach, and thats the same with all of them," MacLean said. "We really believe in the young players, when they get the opportunity to play you have to play them and when theyre playing well you have to get them out there and let them play. Bobbys no different than the rest of them as when hes playing well, well get him out there, and when hes not, we wont." Ryan has learned that lesson under each coach and is thankful for the extra chances that have followed when he faltered. He doesnt like the comparisons to Daniel Alfredsson — who signed with Detroit the same day Ryan was dealt to Ottawa — which will undoubtedly linger, but filling that role as a scoring winger suits him well. "Theyre giving me an opportunity to, I guess, be one of the top players, one of the go-to guys and putting me in situations where they feel like I can have success," Ryan said. "Thats all I really wanted and thats the opportunity that I think I knew I was going to be given." ——— Follow Stephen Whyno on Twitter at @SWhyno ' ' '