Craig Hits Two HR’s As Cardinals Avoid Sweep With 7-2 Victory

By Chad Carlson
Photo Credit: AP
The Pirates entered tonight’s game at PNC Park in search of a sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals.  As is the case with the better teams in the league, it would be no easy task to defeat the Cards in three straight games.  Additionally, the Cardinals needed to start playing catch-up immediately, as they had fallen seven games behind the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers.
Paul Maholm continued his struggles against St. Louis tonight, as he was tagged for three runs on eight hits in five innings of work.  The Cardinals defeated the Pirates tonight at PNC Park by a final score of 7-2.
The Cardinals jumped on the board early tonight against Paul Maholm.  In fact, the first four batters reached base, including Allen Craig, who blasted a two run homerun to deep center field.  Yadier Molina also singled in the inning, driving home Matt Holliday.  St. Louis led 3-0 before the Pirates even came to the plate.
Pittsburgh battled back to make it interesting in the fifth inning, as Jose Tabata smashed a two-run homerun to right center field, scoring Ronny Cedeno from second base. 
Unfortunately, that was as close as the Pirates would get, as the Cardinals added a runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth to break the game wide open.  Craig hit his second homerun of the game in the seventh inning, and Lance Berkman added a pinch-hit RBI single in the eighth, stretching the lead to 7-2, which would eventually be the final.
The Pirates did not play well tonight at all.  It’s awfully frustrating, especially considering how well they played the previous two games, and the fact that they were going for a sweep of an N.L. Central divisional foe.
Mental mistakes and errors certainly hurt the Bucs tonight.  After getting behind early, they couldn’t afford to make these types of mistakes and expect to come back.
Ronny Cedeno’s mistake in the sixth was particularly aggravating.  With runners on first and second and one out, the Cardinals’ Kyle Lohse hit a ground ball at Cedeno, who was playing in for that exact reason.  Rather than throwing the ball home to save a run, Ronny took a quick look toward Ryan Doumit before tossing the ball over to Jones for the out.  The Cardinals scored, adding another run to their lead.  Garrett Jones and Brandon Wood each had errors as well. 
The first inning seemed to set the tone for the entire night.  After the Cardinals scored three runs to take the early advantage, the Buccos put runners on first and second with one out, and later had the bases loaded with two outs. Doumit and Ryan Ludwick couldn’t deliver, and the Pirates ended the inning empty-handed.
The bullpen didn’t fair too well tonight either.  Brad Lincoln gave up two runs on three hits in two innings, while Daniel McCutchen surrendered two runs in one inning of work.
Kyle Lohse pitched a nice game for the Cardinals, limiting the Pirates to two runs on five hits through his seven innings, while the bullpen held the Bucs in check in the eighth and ninth innings.
Pittsburgh has the day off tomorrow before opening up a series against the Cincinnati Reds this weekend.  Saturday’s game will be televised on Fox, and Fans From The Stands will be in attendance.
Record Vs. Cardinals: 5-4
Record Vs. N.L. Central: 27-24
Record At Home: 28-33
Overall Record: 58-64
As Always…
Let’s Go Bucs!

Chad Carlson

Co-Editor of Fans From The Stands, Pirates' Beat Writer For Armchair Report, Sports writer for AMN, SteelTownRock And Music City Encore Editor

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