The Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals squared off tonight for the eleventh time this season. Having split the first ten games, with half of them going into extra innings (including two 14-inning games), it was no surprise that this one once again was close to the very end.
Jeff Locke only lasted five innings, and the Cardinals used a fifth inning rally to edge the Buccos 4-3 in the first game of the three game series at Busch Stadium.
The Pirates’ left-hander struggled with his control, particularly in the fifth inning, which led to another short outing. Locke gave up four runs on seven hits with three walks and three strikeouts.
The Pirates took the lead on Carlos Martinez and the Cardinals in the first inning. Starling Marte laced a one-out double down the third base line, and later scored on an RBI double to right field by Jung Ho Kang, putting the Bucs in front 1-0.
St. Louis responded in the bottom of the first inning with a run of their own. Matt Carpenter led off with a single, and after Kolten Wong hit into a fielder’s choice, Jhonny Peralta singled to put runners at first and third and just one out. Jason Heyward grounded to Pedro Alvarez, who threw to second for one out and the throw back to first was originally called an out. But, after the challenge by the Cardinals, the play was overturned, and Wong scored as a result of the play, tying the game.
Aramis Ramirez smacked a two-out RBI single, scoring Gregory Polanco, who led off with a triple, and the Pirates had a 2-1 lead. They’d add another run in the fourth on a solo homerun by Alvarez.
The Cardinals finally broke through on Locke in the fifth inning for three runs. Wong and Peralta led off the inning with back to back walks. Heyward singled in a run, and after a groundout put runners on second and third with one out, Yadier Molina sacrificed to center, scoring a run and tying the game. The eventual game-winner came off the bat of Stephen Piscotty, who singled in Heyward, and the Cards led 4-3 after five innings.
Martinez shut down the Pirates from that point forward, and as the game went on, the outs came more and more easily for the right hander. He ended up lasting eight innings, giving up three runs on nine hits with eight strikeouts. Trevor Rosenthal set the Bucs down quietly in the ninth to end the game.
This was a tough way to begin this very important series for the Pirates. They did everything you would want them to – they got off to a good start, took an early lead, and got Martinez to throw a lot of pitches early. But once again, Locke’s control issues ultimately became his undoing in the fifth inning. The Pirates offense had their chances to tie or take the lead, but they just couldn’t come through when needed. Opportunities cannot be wasted when you’re playing the best team in baseball. Now, the Pirates are behind the eight ball as they try to even the series tomorrow night. Michael Wacha takes the mound for St. Louis against Gerrit Cole for the Bucs.
Record vs. Cardinals: 5-6
Record vs. N.L. Central: 20-28
Record on the Road: 26-27
Overall Record: 65-45
Let’s Go Bucs!