No Pirates pitcher does a better job avoiding a big, nasty inning than right-hander Gerrit Cole.

The other day, someone mentioned that Cole had yielded more than one run-scoring hit in just two of his first 71 innings this season.

Oops! Was that a jinx?

“I don't believe in jinxes,” manager Clint Hurdle said dryly. “I believe in location. If he continues to locate the ball like he's doing, he's got a better-than-average chance of avoiding a big inning. There comes a point in some games when he says: ‘That's enough.' He's the first guy I've had who's had that emergency brake.”

During the Pirates' 4-1 victory Tuesday against the San Diego Padres — their third straight win — Cole's foot was on the gas all night.

Will Venable hit a two-out double in the second inning. After walking Rene Rivera to start the third, Cole retired the next 11 batters. The string was broken by Chase Headley's looping, two-out single in the sixth.

Seth Smith and Yonder Alonso followed with line-drive singles to score Headley.

Would Cole finally be bitten by a big inning?

It might have been, but Hurdle rescued him.

With Cole's pitch count at 100, Hurdle called on reliever Jared Hughes. Jedd Gyorko grounded out — second baseman Neil Walker made a nice, sliding stop — to end the threat.

Cole (6-3) worked 5 2⁄3 innings and allowed a run and four hits. He walked two and struck out six.

“I had good stuff tonight,” Cole said. “I stuck around the zone enough to keep them swinging at it. I wasn't very efficient, especially with a four-run lead. That's pretty frustrating. I uncharacteristically just ran out of stuff at the end.”

Cole said it was “inexcusable” his inefficiency kept him from going deeper into the game, especially on a night when his offspeed pitches were clicking. He blamed himself — Cole threw five or more pitches against 12 of the 22 batters he faced.

“I wasn't missing by much, but I was missing,” Cole said. “I guess I've got to be a little more aggressive over the plate early.”

Their pitching staff riddled by injuries, the Padres called up 24-year-old righty Jesse Hahn from Double-A to start against the Pirates.