Well, here we go again! Tonight kicked off another HUGE series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals. Charlie Morton took the mound for the Bucs tonight against the team that has been his nemesis over the years. Despite a strong start from Morton, the Cardinals battled their way back, taking advantage of inexcusable errors and mistakes by the Pirates, and beat our Bucs 4-3 at Busch Stadium.
The Pirates got off to a great start against Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals in the first couple innings. Andrew McCutchen hit his 17th homerun of the season in the first, barely creeping over the right field wall, scoring Neil Walker and giving the Bucs an early 2-0 lead. Jordy Mercer led off the second inning with a solo homerun over the left field wall to extend the lead to 3-0. Even when the Pirates weren’t scoring runs, they were certainly making the opposing pitcher work on the mound. In fact, Wainwright needed 50 pitches to record the first six outs of the game.
After a solid start to the game, Morton ran into a little trouble in the third inning. But with runners on first and second and two outs, he forced Carlos Beltran to pop out to third. St. Louis threatened again in the fourth inning, but with runners on second and third and two outs, Ground Chuck forced Tony Cruz into an inning-ending ground out to second base. The Bucs still led 3-0 after four innings.
The Cardinals got things rolling in the top of the sixth inning against Morton. Beltran, Allen Craig, and Matt Holliday hit three straight singles to load the bases with no outs. But Charlie got David Freese to ground into a double play. Then after allowing an RBI single to Jon Jay, he got Cruz to ground out to end the inning, hanging on to a 3-2 lead.
The eighth inning provided plenty of drama, as the Cardinals once again threatened to tie the game. Bryan Morris gave up a one out single to Holliday and a two out to Jay, putting runners at the corners for pinch hitter Matt Adams. But Morris got the Slippery Rock, PA native to line out to second base, ending the threat and the inning.
Mark Melancon came in attempting to shut down the Cardinals’ last chance for a comeback. With one out in the ninth, Daniel Descalso hit a routine fly ball to left field, but the ball bounced in and out of Starling Marte’s glove, and Descalso ended up at second base with just one out. But Melancon struck out Matt Carpenter and, after walking Beltran, gave up a single to Craig to tie the game and force extra innings.
A couple more mistakes plagued the Pirates in the bottom half of the 10th. Vin Mazzaro walked Holliday to lead off the inning, and Rod Johnson laid down a bunt in an attempt to move the runner into scoring position. Gaby Sanchez got the ball early, attempted to throw out the lead runner at second, but his throw was wide and everyone was safe with no outs. After Jay sacrificed the runners to second and third with one out, the Pirates walked the bases loaded for the shortstop, Pete Kozma. But Mazzaro struck out Kozma and forced Descalso to fly out to end the inning.
Adron Chambers smacked a run-scoring single to left field and Jay beat out Marte’s throw to home in the 14th as the Cardinals edge the Bucs.
This was a tough loss for the Pirates for so many reasons. They had so many chances to win, and led throughout the game, but unfortunately, mistakes, errors, and missed opportunities cost them. The Bucs have now lost four straight games and are just two games ahead of the Cardinals in the N.L. Central.
Record vs. Cardinals: 7-4
Record vs. N.L. Central: 30-19
Record on the Road: 29-28
Overall Record: 70-48
Let’s Go Bucs!