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In yesterday’s game at PNC Park, the Pirates and Los Angeles Dodgers combined for 16 runs on 19 hits in a 10-6 Bucs’ victory.  Tonight, the Pirates kicked off another huge series, this time against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium.  The two teams combined for just three runs on a total of ten hits, but the Pirates did just enough to edge the Cardinals, 2-1, in the first game of this huge N.L. Central weekend matchup.

After posting an ERA over 8.00 since the All Star break, James McDonald was very impressive tonight, holding the Cardinals in check throughout his six innings of work.  J-Mac gave up just two hits, while walking three and striking out seven, lowering his ERA to 3.61 and winning his 11th game of the season.

After Chris Resop gave up the only run to the Cards, Juan Cruz cleaned up his mess in the seventh, while Jason Grilli and Joel Hanrahan shut the door on the Red Birds in the eighth and ninth innings.  Hanrahan earned his National League-leading 34th save by closing the door on the Cards after issuing a one-out walk to Carlos Beltran.

Offensively, the Pirates weren’t very productive against St. Louis starter Jake Westbrook.  In fact, they were able to win the game tonight without tallying a single RBI.  Both runs the Bucs scored were as a result of the communication problems between Westbrook and catcher Tony Cruz, filling in for Yadier Molina, who missed his third straight game.  Travis Snider and Andrew McCutchen scored on a wild pitch and passed ball respectively in the fourth inning, which would end up being the difference in the game.

Pedro Alvarez continued to swing a confident bat tonight, going 2-4, while McCutchen was 1-2 with a single, two walks, and a run scored, bumping his average back up to .360.  Snider, Starling Marte, and Garrett Jones had the other hits for the Bucs on the night.

After a disappointing home stand, it was a huge statement for the Pirates to get off on the right foot on this difficult road trip.  The Cardinals will be in the playoff picture down the stretch, and it’s a huge momentum builder to take the opening game of this series.  James McDonald took a big step in the right direction, tossing six scoreless innings.  Baseball is a crazy game; two days ago it seemed as though things were starting to slip away, and now, things are looking up again for the Pirates and their fans.

The Pirates and Cardinals will face off once again tomorrow afternoon at Busch Stadium.  Erik Bedard will take the mound for the Bucs against the Cards’ Lance Lynn.  First pitch is slated for 4:05pm.

Record vs. Cardinals: 5-5

Record vs. N.L. Central: 29-19

Record on the Road: 29-30

Overall Record: 66-53

 

And…

As Always…

Let’s Go Bucs!